Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shawl Knitting

I've been tackling more lace-knitting projects lately.  They've caused me grief in the past, and I've been trying to conquer those demons.

First up was a Catenary shawl knit with The Sanguine Gryphon Little Traveler yarn in the color far, far away.

Next up was a les Abeilles shawl knit with Sunshine Yarns Sunsilk yarn in the color chocolate plum.

In the second photo, you can see my beautiful copper shawl pin from Nicholas and Felice on Etsy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Socks - Pair 6

I made it to my goal in 2010 - finished 6 pairs of socks!  I didn't have a lot of extra time, but I did it.  My last pair is using Sunshine Yarns Merino Sport in the color Italian Riviera.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Training Updates

Haven't talked much about training lately, which is mostly because I haven't done any lately.

I ran the Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon over Labor Day with friends.  I'd been having problems with pain in my shin and thought it could be a stress fracture.  That race pretty much confirmed it.  My orthopedic doc checked me out and put me in a boot for six weeks so it could heal.

Now I'm out of the boot and can return to running very very slowly.  I'm looking forward to it!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alot Better Ninja

For the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup, the Ravenclaw Tower is planning to rob Gringotts using Alots.  We love the Alot is better than you at everything and thought it would be great to make our own stuffed Alots.

Who better than to sneak into a bank than a ninja?

Here he is rappelling into the vault

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dyeing my Yarn

Remember my first handknit yarn?  I dyed it using coffee following the instructions here.  Here's the finished product:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2010 Socks - Pair 5

Fifth pair of socks this year!  One more until I reach my goal!  These were knit with Sunshine Merino Sport in Yellowstone color.  I made the pattern up myself (first time for a pair of socks!)  I think they turned out rather well.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Training Totals - August 2010

Better month for me!
  • Bike: 77 miles
  • Run: 80.23 miles
  • Swim: 5,100 meters
Two races this month:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lentils and Bacon

I'm trying out some new recipes.  We usually make pasta as a side dish, but that doesn't work with being gluten free.  The pantry was a little empty, but I had all the ingredients for this recipe.

This was really good.  I liked the smokieness of the bacon with the lentils and a little crisp from the carrot.  I served with pork chops.

Lentils and Bacon

1 cup lentils
4 cups water
6 pieces of bacon
1 onion
1 carrot
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Rinse and wash lentils.  Cook in hot water - about 20 minutes - until lentils are tender but not mushy.  Drain lentils and put back in pan.

Cut bacon and cook until crispy.  Remove bacon from pan and drain most of grease.  In remaining grease, cook onions and carrots.

Mix bacon, onions, and carrots with lentils.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add vinegar at he end (can add a little more if you'd like more tangy).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Allergy Testing

I went in for a visit to an allergist today so that I could be allergy tested.  It's been about 8 years since the last one and I thought I had developed new allergies.  5 minutes of torture later, it was clear that I had.

Based on the extent of nut allergies, he recommended that I eliminate all nuts and carry an epi-pen all the time.  Fun stuff.

He also recommended the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network website as a good source of info on food allergies.  It's already been helpful!  For example, I learned that most people with peanut allergies can still eat food cooked in peanut oil, which is pretty cool.  That means I can still go to Five Guys and Chickfila!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thesis/Dissertation Assistanship Award

Found out today that I received a Thesis/Dissertation Assistantship Award from the VCU Graduate School!  It covers about half of my stipend and my tuition through May.  There is also the expectation that I will graduate at the end.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Conference Presentations

My research work was presented at the ATS Conference in May of this year.  The abstract for that talk is available here.  Reference:

R Natarajan, JI Drake, HJ Bogaard, PM Fawcett, B Clifton, Y Gao, and NF Voelkel. The Molecular Signature of the Right Heart Failure Program in Chronic Severe Pulmonary Hypertension. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 181;2010:A6586.

In other news, the paper has now been rejected from Nature Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and Circulation Research.  We actually got reviewed by Circulation Research and got comments back, which was a nice change.

Next up: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (aka blue journal)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gluten Free Food Reviews - August 2010

I haven't done this in awhile because I tend to stick with a lot of the foods that I know are good rather than trying new things.  But, a few things I've tried recently that I like:

DeBoles Corn Pasta - this was a lot less gummy than the rice pasta and tasted almost exactly like wheat pasta!  It was even good reheated, which I cannot say for rice pasta.

Bob's Red Mill Mixes - I've made the pizza crust and the cornbread, both of which are very tasty.  They offer a lot of mixes and flour so you can do your own baking.

Annie's Gluten Free Rice Pasta and Cheddar - replacement for the Kraft Mac and Cheese.  It turns out better when you don't cook the the noodles as long as the box suggests.

Sticks Kebob Shop is a restaurant in Richmond and Charlottesville that is gluten free.  They even use gluten free soy sauce! 

Noodles & Company has a few gluten free options.  Stick with the rice noodles and avoid the chicken.  You can ask for the rice noodles in other dishes.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Training Totals - July 2010

Haven't reported this in awhile.  I had a pretty good month despite getting bronchitis.
  • Bike: 80.96 miles
  • Run: 51.99 miles
  • Swim: 4,500 meters
  • Strength: 15 minutes
  • Physical Therapy: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Race Volunteering: 5 hours 30 minutes
I also did three races this month.  I had to sit out a triathlon on July 25th due to the bronchitis, but was still able to do some running races

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Finished Projects

Starting my knitting for Fall and Winter early, I decided to make a slouchy hat and a scarf.  These are both made with Sunshine Yarns Worsted Merino in the color Unbirthday.

Behold! I have made yarn!

It's not very good, but I made some!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Inspiring a Yarn Color

Dani at Sunshine Yarns ran a contest to submit photos of favorite summer vacations to become inspiration for new yarn colors.  I submitted some photos of our honeymoon in Tahiti and it was selected to become one of the new yarn colors!

It will be available to purchase - along with the other Summer Inspirations - on Tuesday July 27th at 11:00 AM MDT.  All of the yarns are gorgeous, but I'm especially excited to see mine in person!!!

Update: here is my yarn in person!  It's gorgeous!!  Can't wait to make a pair of socks with this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Making my Own Yarn

I've been having issues with my wrist while knitting, so I'm going to try spinning.  For my birthday, I got a Golding Tsunami spindle in their Learn to Spin kit.  I'm excited to try. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Futher Proof That I am a Big Nerd

Since January, I've been participating in the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC) online on Ravelry.  Basically, a bunch of knitters and crocheters get together and are divided into the houses - I'm a Ravenclaw - and there are six classes per month, plus you can sit for OWL exams that take three months.

This term, the Headmistress issued a challenge asking us to knit bookmarks that will be sent to J. K. Rowling to give to children as one of her big charities is childrens' literacy.  Here are my submissions:

I think they are quite adorable.  I'm almost sad that I am giving them away.  Hopefully, they will make someone happy.

Other Recent Knitting Projects

Citron Shawl knit in Blue Heron Metallic Rayon yarn (this was my big splurge at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May):

A Soot Sprite made with leftover black wool and some fun fur.  Hate the yarn, but I love the result.

2010 Socks - Pair 4

This pair was a birthday gift for my mom.  Knit in Colinette Jitterbug in Vatican Pie.  Pattern is from the book Socks from the Toe Up.

Catching Up

I haven't posted in awhile, so I'm going to try to catch up.  Work has been really busy.  I went home to Wisconsin for a few weeks at the end of June to visit my family.  My little brother got married!!  Here's a picture of me and my new sister-in-law:

Training went better in June, so that was an improvement.

June's totals:
Bike:6h 51m 31s  - 101.14 Mi
Run:5h 39m 48s  - 25.57 Mi
Swim:7h 00m 14s  - 14500 M
Strength:1h 40m
Barefoot Walking:45m

Lots of knitting got done, but I'll put those in a separate post.  :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Science Writing and Rejection

Last week, I prepared my first manuscript for publication.  It was the first thing I've tried to publish based on my research.  We submitted it to Nature Medicine.  We got a response this week that the Editorial Board was rejecting it and was not sending it to the Review Board.  I know they reject a lot of papers and it's not personal, but I'm still a bit disappointed.  Round 2 will probably be the Journal of Clinical Investigation.  Hopefully that goes better!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

2010 Socks - Pair 4

Pair 4 done!  I call these Passionate Monkey socks as they are the Monkey sock pattern knit in Pagewood Farm Yukon in the color passion.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2010

Over the weekend, I went to my first ever fiber festival - Maryland Sheep and Wool!  It was very interesting!  Kind of like a State Fair, but focusing only on fiber-related animals and products.  I really enjoyed it.  I only bought two skeins of yarn and some buttons (pics to come later) and managed to stay in my budget.  I camped on Patapsco Valley State Park, which was wonderful.  Here are some pictures from the weekend:



-Bunnies (angora)

-Baby Sheep

You can find all of my pictures from the weekend here.

Friday, April 30, 2010

2010 Socks - Pair 3

Halfway done with my goal of 6 pairs of socks knit this year!  I think I might have to raise that goal!

I'm calling these "Snow Day Mystery socks".  The color is Snow Day from Sunshine Yarns.  The pattern was a mystery in that I didn't know what the finished sock would look like when I started.  It was a pattern I was helping to test knit.  I'm very happy with the results.  Despite the yarn name, I think they are perfect for Spring!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thyroid/Gluten Interaction?

I received an interesting article from a friend today discussing potential interactions between thyroid disease and gluten intolerance.  I haven't had a chance to read all the references yet, but I will check them out.  However, in my experience, I've noticed that I feel much better when I am not eating gluten.  I relapsed to eating gluten as normal over the past few weeks, and I currently feel terrible.  So, if you have thyroid disease and are told your levels are normal, going gluten free might be worth a try.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Training Totals - March 2010

March Totals
  • Bike - 207.53 miles
  • Run - 33.76 miles
More than last month, but not as much as I was hoping on the run.  Still, I made a lot of good progress biking - my longest ride was 54 miles!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010 Socks - Pair 2

My second pair of socks finished this year!  This is the Swedish Fish Socks pattern made in Sunshine Yarns classic sock in peacock (blue) and Bella's truck (orange).  Lots of work with the two colors, but I am really pleased with how they turned out!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Homemade Energy Bars

One of the biggest challenges I've had since going gluten free is finding energy bars I can eat.  There are a few flavors of Lara Bar that do not have almonds, but really not that many.  Plus, I like something closer to Clif Bar texture.  A friend forwarded me a great recipe to make your own energy bars.  If you find certified gluten-free oats, they can be made gluten free.

I made mine using gluten-free steel-cut oats, olive oil, 1/3 cup dried tart cherries, 1/3 cup dried orange cranberries, 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1 mashed banana, 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar.  They were a little too sticky, so next time I would add some more nuts, flax seed, or more oats.  I baked for about 35 minutes and they are still chewy, which is exactly the texture I wanted.

The final product:

Here is the recipe:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Vibram Experiment

I've been interested in getting a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for quite awhile.  My husband got a pair of the Classic model last summer and I've worn his around the house a few times even though they are much too big for me.

The REI closest to my house recently started carrying them, so I was able to try them on in person.  This is really the best way given that the sizing can be quite tricky.  I knew I wanted the Sprint model because I like the adjustable heel strap and the strap on the top.  Plus, it would be more stable if I wanted to run in them.  I wear Injinji toe socks for running to prevent blisters between my toes, so I took those to try them on.  I ran into the problem that the size that fits best without socks was a little tight with them.  I ended ordering the smaller size because I don't think I'll be wearing socks in the summer.  REI didn't carry the model or color I wanted in the store, so I ordered them online.  They came today!

The shoes recommend wearing them for an hour or two at first for the muscles to get used to them.  It definitely feels different, but they are quite comfortable.  The sizing is the same as the Classics I tried on in that they are a little tight with the socks, but just right without.  I'm hoping they stretch a little bit after I wear them.

I'll keep you posted!

2010 Socks - Pair 1

One of my goals for the year is to knit at least six pairs of adult-sized socks.  I finished up my first pair last month.  This is the Duckies pattern, available for free on Ravelry, knit in Sunshine Yarns Luxury Sport (mix of merino and cashmere) in the algae color.  I love how they turned out.  They are so soft and cozy to wear.

Training Totals - February 2010

February Totals

  • Bike - 135.32 miles
  • Run - 23.82 miles
  • Home Improvement (help a friend move) - 3 hours
  • Physical Therapy - 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Snow Shoveling - 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Walking - 2 hours
I'm on track to exceed those for March!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two finished objects: one cute, one not so much

I started and finished up two knitting projects so far this month. First one is a cute pair of booties for a friend's new baby girl (due any day!):

Another project was a cat mat knit with leftover yarn and fun fur.  I think it is horrible and ugly, but the cats like it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Power Test - Week 0

I am signed up for a 12 week cycling class at Endorphin Fitness designed to increase power and strength.  Today, I did pre-class power testing to get a baseline of where I am.  The power test was:

1. 15 minutes warm up
2. 3x1 minute at threshold intensity, then 1 minute rest
3. 5 minutes easy
4. 5 minutes all out
5. 10 minutes easy
6. 20 minutes hard
7. 15 minutes cool down

Here are my results:

IntervalWatts (Avg)Watts (Max)Heart Rate (Avg)Cadence (Avg)MPH (Avg)
1 min1311461688017.0
1 min1391731688217.7
1 min1531881728618.3
5 min1331681778317.4
20 min1221881818116.8

I am using the 20 minute test to calculate my heart rate zones as:

Zone     HR Range        
1<= 122
2123 - 150
3151 - 170
4171 - 190

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gluten Free Food Reviews - January 2010

I plan to do a series of reviews of gluten-free foods I like and don't like.  I'm currently aiming for once per month.

Best of the Month

Whole Foods Market Gluten-Free Bakehouse Cheddar Biscuits - these are fantastic.  Can't tell they are gluten free at all!  Wonderful warm (heat for 10 min at 350) and served with homemade stew.


Kettle Soup chicken with rice noodle soup - very good.  Nice salty broth with big chunks of chicken.  The noodles are big and thick, so they didn't seem like rice noodles to me at all.  Great option for lunch.

Amy's rice noodle mac and cheese - very thick and gooey macaroni and cheese.  We couldn't tell that it was GF.  The noodles did get a little chewy as it got cold, but nothing too bad.

Savory crackers from Trader Joe's - nice and crispy.  They have a good sesame flavor, which I really like.  Especially delicious paired with the Trader Joe's triple creme brie.

Glutino's sesame pretzel rings - nice and crunchy with a good sesame flavor.  My only complaint is that they can feel a little oily.


Amy's gluten free cheese pizza - the crust was not my favorite and really didn't get crispy in our oven.  Maybe if we had a pizza stone to cook it on, it would be better.

Enjoy Life classic original bagels - they are small and very dense.  I was hoping to be able to make sandwiches on them, but that doesn't work with the size.  They are pretty bready, which is nice, but they are also a little too sweet.

Food for Life raisin pecan bread - very thick and dense.  The butter and cinnamon weren't really able to soak in after I toasted it as I would like.  Still, it worked in a pinch and I got to have some toast.  I wanted to make french toast with it, but I don't think it will work based on the not soaking up butter at all.

Worst of the Month

Jo-sef square chocolate cookies - hard and dry.  They really need to be soaked in something to be edible.  Maybe it's because they are also dairy free?  I won't be buying these again!


P.F. Chang's - they have a gluten free menu and are really great about making sure the food is gluten free.  We ordered take out.  When my husband got there to pick it up, they apologized and told him they had to remake my entree because they didn't make it GF the first time.  And, they packed up some GF soy sauce for me.

Pizza Fusion - they have a GF crust that is actually very good!  It is thin and crispy, which is my pizza style.  Lots of toppings are ok - the only one that isn't is the sausage.  Next time, I would order well done, but I like my pizza to have browned cheese.

Training Totals - January 2010

A summary of what I did this month

  • Bike - 14.82 miles
  • Run - 37.98 miles
  • Strength - 45 minutes
  • Core Training - 30 minutes
  • Yoga - 40 minutes
  • Snow Shoveling - 1 hour 15 minutes
I didn't get in as much as I would have liked, but I was sick for part of the month and very busy at work.  I started a duathlon training team and will hopefully start a cycling class in a few weeks, so that should bump up my numbers in February.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

That spells DNA...

One of my favorite science nerd songs is Jonathan Coulton's "That Spells DNA".

There are a few factual errors in the song.  He states that "each cell has a nucleus", but that is not true.  Red blood cells (erythrocytes) in humans and mammals do not contain nuclei.  That being said, I still love the song.

The following lyrics always make me wish I had a computer nearby so I could see if they were real sequences:

If it says TGGTCGAAC
Then you might get the cancer
Then you shouldn't eat shrimp or nuts
Then you'll probably wish that you didn't know

According to JoCo they are made up, saying: "I'm pretty sure that actual important strings of DNA would be too long to put into a song and still have a song that someone might want to listen to."  However, I decided to BLAST the sequences and see if anything came up.  Yes, I am that big of a nerd.

I had to change the BLAST parameters to accomodate the short sequences - notably changing the expect threshold to 5 and the word size to 16.  The first two were still to short for a result.

However, the last matched to the gene Casc1, cancer susceptibility candidate 1.  It's been implicated in mouse lung adenoma.  So, indeed, you probably wish that you didn't know.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2010 Race Schedule (Tentative)

I'm in the process of finalizing my 2010 race season. Here's my tentative plan (anything marked R is something I'm actually registered for!)

ING Georgia Half Marathon - March 21 - R
Monument Ave 10k - March 27
National Duathlon - April 2 - R
Capital to Capital Century (50 mile) - May 8
PowerSprint Tri - May 23
Rockett's Landing Triathlon - July 23
Pink Power Triathlon - August 22
Patrick Henry Half Marathon - August 28
Marine Corps Marathon - October 31 - R
Richmond Marathon - November 13

For the National Duathlon, I'm signed up for the SportsBackers training team. They will give me a training plan and have weekly group workouts. I did their marathon training team last year (and will again this year) and thought it was great, so I'm in for the duathlon, too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Finished Object: Susie's Reading Mitts

Today I finished knitting a pair of fingerless gloves. When I first started knitting, I thought all the patterns for fingerless gloves were kind of silly. Then, I moved into a new lab at school and always have cold hands while working on the computer. So, I knit these.
They're made with Berroco Inca Gold in color gris. The pattern is available for free.

Next up, a pair of Swedish Fish socks in two lovely colors from Sunshine Yarns.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Going Gluten Free

Over the past year and a half, I've had a lot of GI problems. Mostly unexplained abdominal pain, but I also had my gallbladder removed in October 2009. I've had every GI test people can think of - endoscopy, colonoscopy, GI series, CAT scan, and blood tests.

My endocrinologist suggested testing me (again) for Celiac disease last fall. He ran both IgG and IgA and I was positive for both. However, he said it was in the normal range and not to worry about it.

I'm still having the pain, although less so, 3 months after gallbaldder surgery. To that end, I decided to try going gluten free for awhile (at least one month) to see if it helps. This started January 14. It's been tough so far. It's hard to figure out what has gluten and what doesn't. I'm learning slowly and have friends who have given advice.

Three days in, I haven't noticed much of a difference, but that's to be expected.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I thought I’d try blogging as an experiment. I have a LiveJournal that I don’t really use anymore and I think it’s because I don’t like the format as much. Plus, I wanted to get a chance to start from scratch and that works here.

So, a little about me and the title:

Science – I’m in the fourth year of my PhD program in Integrative Life Sciences. I’m focusing on genetics and statistics and studying gene expression in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. I work closely with MDs and, hopefully, my research will be applied to treating patients one day. I love the idea that one day my work may help patients. It’s definitely what I’d like to keep focusing on for my career.

Training – I train for both triathlons and marathons. I did my first triathlon in October 2005 and have done many Sprint and Olympic distance races since then. One day, I’d love to try a Half-Ironman (HIM or 70.3) or Ironman (IM or 140.6) distance race, but I’m not in any hurry. I completed my first marathon in 2008 and have plans to do one or two this year. I had to defer enrollment in the Marine Corps Marathon last year because of gallbladder surgery, so I am definitely looking forward to it this year!!

Knitting – In all of my extra free time (ha!), I enjoy knitting. I started about two years ago and find it really relaxing. Plus, it makes me feel less lazy if I knit while I watch TV at night. I love to knit socks, although I’m not great at actually finishing a pair. The first is easy; the second is always hard to start. My goal for this year is to knit six pairs of socks total. We’ll see how I do!

Oh my! I think this is self-explanatory. How can I get everything done and not go crazy? We’ll see if that happens!!