Monday, December 24, 2012

Hello. My name is Jen, and I have a yarn problem.

It started off innocently enough.  I'd buy yarn for a specific pattern, but wouldn't be able to get to it as quickly as I expected.  Then, it progressed to buying a skein just because it was pretty.  Next thing I knew, I was signing up for yarn clubs and setting up reminders on my phone for independent dyers' online updates.

All of this has resulted in a yarn stash that is out of control.  I currently have 47,932 yards of yarn or about 27.3 miles worth of yarn.  That's a bit insane.  My goal for 2013 is to knit from my stash and stop buying yarn.  We'll see how I do!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Race Report: HCA Virginia 8k

Date: November 10, 2012
Distance: 8k (4.97 miles)
Time: 1:10:57
Pace: 14:17 min/mile
Overall Place: 2957/3587
Age Group (F 30-34) Place: 316/384

Woke up, got dressed, and made an espresso before leaving the house. Drove to the race site, parked in my normal downtown lot, and walked to starting line.

Walked 5 blocks from parking lot to the bag drop off. Dropped bag off, walked to starting corral two blocks away. Bounced around to keep warm.

Really wasn't feeling this run - I'd been really sick for the week leading up to it and wasn't sleeping well. In fact, I seriously considered sleeping in and skipping it. But, since I had post-race plans with Kristen and Judi, I sucked it up and went. My strategy was to have planned walk/run intervals. But, my Garmin was dead when I went to grab it in the morning. So, at the start of the race i decided to do intervals based on blocks.

I ran the first 7 blocks, then walked 7. Kept alternating that the whole way. I tried to ignore all the people passing me - even when I was running - and stick with my own pace. It's not really the easiest thing to do. Despite that, I was pretty surprised at how quickly the blocks were going. I ended up shortening some of my walk intervals because I felt so good and wasn't having huge problems breathing because of the cold like I expected. When I got to the 4 mile marker, I decided to walk up a few last blocks uphill and then run the rest of the way. The last 0.4 miles or so are all downhill, so I really passed lots of people by kicking it out on the last big hill section. That felt great!

Given my physical condition, I'm not sure there's a lot I would have changed about how I handled this. I was sick and was never going to run the whole thing.

Walked around the island, got food. Stood in line at the McDonald's truck for free coffee and smoothie samples - they were totally not worth it! The coffee was terrible. Walked ALLLL the way up the hill to bag check (who's genius idea was that?) and then back down to wait for Judi to finish. Knit a few rows of my shawl while waiting and got some crazy weird looks.

Once Judi finished, we walked to her car and then to Starbuck's to get some real coffee! Changed clothes in the Omni, then went back down to find Kristen who was stuck in the med tent. We sprung Kristen and walked to Cap Ale House to get some food and a beer. Great post-race food plan!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Race Report: Wicked 10k

Date: October 27, 2012
Distance: 10k (6.2 miles)
Time: 1:19:46
Pace: 12:50 min/mile
Overall Place: 3538/7264
Age Group (F 30-34) Place: 313/791

Woke up at 6:30, showered, got into costume. Woke E up, got her changed, fed, and into costume. Packed up the stroller, walked out the front door of the hotel, and we were in our corral! Only had about 10 minutes before the race started, so we took a few pictures, and hung out in the back. Lots of fun costumes especially all the strollers with kids.

 First part of run was pretty calm. Once we turned on to the boardwalk it was a lot tougher - wind was in our face and we were getting sand in our eyes. Not so fun. Ran into the wind for about 2.5 miles. That was the hardest part, especially with the stroller. Had to walk a little with E during this part because she got fussy. We had a lot of people - especially kids - be excited about us dressed up as the Incredibles. Very fun. When we turned back onto the Boardwalk at 40th, it was better because the wind was at our back.
Skipped the beer and the candy stops during the race. Didn't seem like such a good plan, and I am not a fan of candycorn any way.

My wrist got pretty swollen during the run and really started to hurt around mile 3. It was wrapped, and I don't think I wrapped it loose enough, but didn't want to mess with it during the race.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cobblestone Mug Cozy

This is the first pattern I've created myself as a challenge for 2012.  I love to make coffee mug cozies as a gift: place them on a paper coffee cup, tuck a gift card inside, and you are all set.  They are great, quick knits perfect for teachers, hair dressers, or anyone.  Everyone seems to love them.  I live in Richmond, VA where there are many brick and cobblestone streets; those sidewalk patterns inspired the design for this cozy.

Materials: about 50 yards of worsted weight yarn (I used both Berroco Comfort and Vanna's Choice)

Needles: size 7.0 DPNs. The gauge is not that important as it is fairly stretchy.  I am a rather tight knitter, so I used size 7.0 (4.5 mm) needles.  If you are an average gauge knitter, I would suggest size 6.0 (4.0 mm) needles; size 5.0 (3.5 mm) needles if you knit loosely. 


I knit this in the round on DPNs, but you could also use magic loop or knit flat and then seam.

Cast on 40 stitches.  Distribute stitches on DPNs and join without twisting. Place marker for the beginning of the row

Rows 1 & 2: k2, p2 all the way around
Row 3: knit all
Row 4: purl all

Rows 5 & 6: p2, k2 all the way around
Row 7: knit all
Row 8: purl all

Repeat rows 1 - 8 twice (3 pattern repeats total)

Bind off loosely


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Race Report: Children's Hospital Foundation 4 Mile Walk/Run

Date:  September 22, 2012
Distance: 4 mile run
Time: 56:30
Pace: 14:07 min/mile
Overall Rank: 192/377
Age Group (F30-39) Rank: 32/70

Good run. I wasn't planning on running the whole thing because I have a cold. It was good to have that expectation going in. My lungs were burning after the first mile. Tried to run as much as I could and keep my lungs going.

I did relace my shoes this morning. They ended up a bit too tight. My left foot was kind of numb by the end.

Goal was to just finish. Really more of a training run than a race

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Make-Ahead Meal: Chicken Pot Pie

I am trying to cook meals ahead on Sunday for the rest of the week.  Today, I made a recipe for chicken pot-pie that turned out quite well!

8 Trader Joe's chicken tenderloins thawed and diced
1 lb. mixed frozen vegetables
1 can cream of celery healthy request soup
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom soup
3/4 cup 2% milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Penzey's Mural of Flavor seasoning
1 tsp. Penzey's Fines Herbes seasoning
2 1/4 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup 2% milk

Preheat oven to 450.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, cook chicken with salt, pepper and seasoning.  Once chicken is cooked, add in frozen vegetables, soup, and 3/4 cup milk.  Stir together and leave on heat until bubbling.

Transfer to large casserole dish.  Mix together Bisquick and 2% milk, then place on top of chicken mixture.  Cook for 15 minutes or until Bisquick is cooked through and brown on top.

Serves 6

Calories per serving: 377
Fat: 10
Carbs: 46
Protein: 21

Monday, July 16, 2012

Race Report: Cul de Sac 5k #2

Date:  July 16, 2012
Distance: 5k run
Time: 43:03
Pace: 13:50 min/mile
Overall Rank: 429/440
Age Group (F30-34) Rank: 38/39

My goals from last week worked out great, so I decided to use them again this week. Added on two new ones:

1) have fun
2) finish
3) not die
4) not walk at all during first mile
5) be faster than last week

I managed to complete all of the goals this week! It was really hot, but I made it through. I decided to use my handheld water bottle so that I would have enough liquid. I'm really glad that I did because it was so hot and humid. Also had a tiny cup of beer right around mile 1 from one of the people in the neighborhood. They were joking about it last week. I love that they followed through!

I also used different shoes this week, and that was a huge help. My Achilles tendon didn't get sore during the run.

BTW, one of my favorite parts of this race? The PIGLETS! The advantage of the Cul de Sac is that I can see them running out of the Cul de Sac as I go in. And, since it's warm, they are all shirtless! Yay

Monday, July 9, 2012

Race Report: Cul de Sac 5k #1

Date: July 9, 2012
Distance: 5k run
Time: 43:46
Pace: 14:04 min/mile
Overall Rank: 398/411
Age Group (F30-34) Rank: 31/32

My goals for the race were to:
a) have fun b) finish c) not die
Goal c was largely for my husband; it seemed like bad form to die on our anniversary. ;)

Started off running all the way to the first cul de sac and to the end of it. My calves were tight by that point, so I walked back to the street. Ran to the end of the next two cul de sacs and then walked back to street. At the end of the third, I stopped to stretch and chat with a coworker who was volunteering.

I walked through the water stop that happened at 1.5 miles. After that, ran to the first turn. Walked up the hill to mile 2, then ran down to the next corner and water stop. The volunteer there told me I was last but not least. He was quite surprised when I told him there were several after me.

I walked through the last water stop and got passed by some older guys who had already finished and were running more. I commented that they were putting me to shame. One, Dave, told me to pick it up and run with him to the end. He is a cross country coach for a nearby high school. He kept me running the last half mile to the finish. Without him, I would not have had as good of a final run. Seriously great guy. He told me he is looking for me next week too. :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Adventures with Beef: Eye of Round Roast

Today I used an eye of round roast to make the asian shredded beef.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly.  I ended up only using 5 tablespoons of honey, and I added 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and 1 teaspoon of onion powder.  I also added a little sesame oil to the slaw from the Korean beef tacos.

The Verdict: the beef was pretty good.  It turns out that Chinese five spice powder has a lot of anise in it, which is not a flavor we are huge fans of.  Still, the beef was tender and very good for tacos.  The slaw was a little too sour and acidic.

Changes for next time:

  • reduce Chinese 5 spice powder to 1 teaspoon
  • increase ginger to 1 teaspoon
  • add 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha or other chili paste (needed a bit of heat)
  • add a little bit of sugar to the slaw sauce to make it more like an American coleslaw
It's definitely a recipe I'd like to try again, especially as I'd like to get the spices just right for our palate.  I think we are going to make burrito bowls with the leftover meat tomorrow.  I'll heat up some black beans and make some rice, then we'll use the beef and slaw to top the rice and beans.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Week with the Crock Pot

Have I mentioned before how much I love my crock pot?  Because it's a lot.  Even if I have, it is worth repeating.  I currently have a 3-quart stainless steel with just two settings (low and high).  I'd love to get another, larger one - like the Hamilton Beech Programmable or the Crock Pot Cook and Carry - so that I can cook larger roasts and things like ribs.

Anyway, I found the blog A Year of Slow Cooking and was inspired to try cooking a week's worth of dinners in the crock pot.  Note: all the recipes on A Year of Slow Cooking are gluten free or include modifications to make them gluten free.

Monday - Super Easy Cranberry Roast served over mashed potatoes
Tuesday - dinner out
Wednesday - Chicken Makhani with rice
Thursday - leftover chicken
Friday - Asian Shredded Beef as tacos with slaw from Korean Beef Soft Tacos

Monday's dinner was another edition of Adventures with Beef: Chuck Roast.  I found some modifications to the sauce in the comments of the recipe that I followed: dump cranberries from can into a bowl, add 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 T. lime juice, 2 T. soy sauce, and 1/2 t. ginger.  I thought this helped the sauce not be too sweet, but in the future, I would probably add some garlic and a bit more OJ.  Maybe even some grated orange zest?  I think it could use a bit of tweaking because it was kind of sweet and one-dimensional for me.

On to Wednesday. I love the chicken makhani that comes from a food cart near where I work. I am pretty sure it's hand made by the old Indian woman who runs the cart.  The recipe linked here was quite good! I substituted chicken breast for chicken thighs because that's what I had in the freezer and omitted the cayenne because Andy is not a huge fan of spicy food.  I also used Greek yogurt at the end.  Surprisingly, even he liked this!  It turned out really well and I will definitely make it again.  Almost as good as the Indian cart.  :)

Tonight we are having leftovers since I had to be out of the house extra early.  I will keep you posted on Friday's dinner.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Adventures with Beef: Chuck Roast

I wasn't quite sure about the chuck roast, but it turned out to be really easy to cook.  Andy really loves stir fry, so I was excited to try this recipe for pepper steak.

I cut the thawed chuck roast into strips, then mixed them with the garlic and ginger.  If I were to make this again, I would marinate the meat overnight to really get the garlic and ginger flavor infused into the meat better.

When cooking the meat, I mixed two teaspoons canola oil with one teaspoon sesame oil.  I like that flavor, and it gave the dish a little more of an asian flavor.  I served it with rice.

I thought the final dish was really good.  I wanted a little more flavor, so I mixed mine with some hot sauce and soy sauce.  I might also put those in the overnight marinade next time.  Andy loved it.  He thought the tomatoes were a little strange at first, but liked the addition.   It was a good way for both of us to eat more veggies.

Note: this is gluten free as long as you watch your Worcestershire sauce. In the US, Lea & Perrins is gluten free, but it is not in other countries.

Verdict: Good! We will definitely make this again.

Adventures with Beef: Introduction

In December, we purchased a quarter share of a cow with three other couples from Wolf Creek Farm.  They raise grass-fed, antibiotic-free cows on a sustainable farm.

Because we purchased a quarter share, there are a lot of cuts I have no idea how to cook.  Ground beef, steaks...well, those are easy!  But, short ribs? brisket? No idea.  Then there are the things I am not brave enough to cook, like the heart and liver.  Those were pawned off on a gift to my friend Nik, who is far more adventurous than I.  (He's even cooked tongue!)

My plan is to share recipes for the things I am less familiar with cooking.  I imagine there will be some mis-steps, but I am also hoping for some good recipes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Operation: Lose the Baby Weight

Ok, technically, I've already lost the baby weight, since I only gained 15 pounds while pregnant and lost 12 of that from delivery.  However, a dear friend has informed me that I'm allowed to use the term "baby weight" until she's about 5.  (This is how you know who your good friend are.)  As such, I've decided to put in the effort and start losing weight and getting back to running.

I am not nearly brave enough to post my starting weight on a blog.  No way.

But, I am logging calories and workouts in my training log at  I've been a member there since 2004 (!) when I decided to train for my very first triathlon.  It's great to get to compare my historical data and see how far I've come. I've also stopped drinking soda to try to cut out empty calories.  Note: this is not a stopping caffeine thing.  I tried that while I was pregnant.  I got massive migraines and I was grumpy.  No one likes that.  Plus, let's be honest, I have an almost-four-month old at home.  I need coffee.

While I am weighing myself every day, I'm mostly paying attention to the Monday weekly weigh-ins.  That gives me extra motivation to be good on the weekend.  :)

I started running yesterday and was able to take the baby for the first time! Her pediatrician recommended we wait until she was about four months old and had better head control.  Here we are ready to go:

It worked out pretty well.  The first few minutes were filled with looks like, "Mommy? What is going on?" and "Mommy? Why are you breathing so hard?".  But, after about 8 minutes, she fell asleep, so I am taking that as a sign that she likes it.  We ran a mile in a little under 15 minutes.  Not too bad for our first run together!

I'll keep you posted on the progress!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 2012 Knitting Projects

I knit about 1,130 yards this month on these projects.  Lots of baby knitting.  :)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins and a Recipe Blog Recommendation

Today, I got a recommendation for this pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe.  It's super easy (so perfect since I don't have a lot of time) and really delicious!  After browsing through the rest of the recipes, I can't wait to try more.  :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking forward to 2012

My training totals for 2011 are pretty terrible.  I don't even want to post them here!  I managed to do one race - a triathlon as part of a relay - but I don't even feel that great about my performance during that either. Suffice to say, I am looking forward to starting 2012!

I am not yet cleared to run.  Hoping that I get the go-ahead in another two weeks at my 6-week post-partum checkup.  Right now, I am trying to take walks with our little one in the stroller and I just started the 100 pushups program (again).  This seem like great ways to ease into training again.

What do you have planned for 2012?  Hope it's a great year!