| Saturday, December 31, 2011
Another year has come and gone! As you'll recall, last year I pulled out all the stops to hit my goal of 1000km. This year I was aiming for 1100km, and for the first half of the year I was on track to surpass that by far. Unfortunately the second half of the year was a different story. I suffered a couple injuries (rolling my left ankle repeatedly) and then I got sidelined by a virus and cough for several weeks. It sucks that I didn't quite get to 1100, but I'm pretty proud regardless. The final numbers:
Dec. 26: 8.86km
Dec. 28: 6.86km
Dec. 30: 8.02km (cycling)
Dec. 31: 5.16km
Total this week: 20.88km (13.05mi)
Total in 2011: 1043.77km (652mi) - 4% increase from 2010
Goals for 2012: I'm now training in earnest for the July 1 Gold Coast Marathon. I'd love to be able to finish it in 5:30. I'd also like to run the Blackmore's Half-Marathon next September and finish it in under 2:30. I'd like to start my podcast up again. (Anybody want to contribute or co-host?) And I'd like to comment more on DailyMile and Fitocracy to thank everyone who's given me such encouragement this year.
I know I've been quiet lately. Big things are happening, but I've been enjoying the past week's vacation too much to sit in front of a computer. One thing we've been doing is looking at bicycles. We checked out Cheeky Transport in Newtown, and then yesterday we visited Atelier de Vélo and Clarence Street Cyclery. At Clarence Street, we discovered it was the last day of their Christmas sale... and they happened to have a great deal on a Trek 2012 7.4 FX WSD bike. Four hours later, I was riding it home! The Snook came to meet me and we did a slow 8K through the CBD to the Rocks and then home again via Darling Harbour. It's been a while since I rode a bike, and I've never ridden such a fancy one before. It's going to take some practice!
I suppose I should mention why I got the bike. This is the really big news: I got a new job. A couple weeks ago, a friend and former colleague called me up with an offer to join him at Sitback. I met with the company founders, visited the office, and chatted with some employees. There was no interview as such; they were trying to sell me on the idea of coming there. (Very flattering!) I've been in my current role for three years, and I've been wondering if it's time for a change. This was the perfect opportunity. I gave notice at my current role before Christmas, and I finish up on January 20. Then I start at Sitback on the 23rd! I will be their sole Business Analyst, writing specs for all the exciting projects they're working on. One very cool aspect of the job is that the offices are down in the Rocks not far from the Snook's office at Walsh Bay. We're going to be able to commute together! That's why I was excited to get a bicycle. The ride is fairly short - only about 4.5km - but it's a lot faster on a bike than on the bus. I'll miss my weekly workout at Spudds, of course, but I'm hoping to still get over there for the occasional evening class. Luckily some of my new colleagues are sporty and apparently we've got gym access there as well. I can't wait!
Needless to say, I'm very excited for all the new changes coming in 2012!
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
I just realised that I've made a lot of stuff this month that didn't actually get documented on the blog yet. For posterity's sake...
Felt Tree Ornaments
As in previous years, a group of my knitting friends met up for a "Christmas Tea Party" earlier in the month. We always do a handmade ornament exchange. Rather than knit something, I saw some felt tree ornaments online and decided to sew instead. I made a template out of some cardstock and cut out the front and back of several trees. Then I hand-sewed on a selection of buttons to each front. (I've got a box of odd buttons.) Then I sewed the pieces together, sandwiching a piece of ribbon at the top for the hanger and leaving the bottom open. I stuffed each tree lightly with polyfill, then sewed the opening closed. I then trimmed the edges with pinking shears and did some decorative stitching with red yarn. They turned out pretty cute! I was very happy to see them go home with Kylie, who has hung them on her mantle. (In a stunning non-coincidence, I got Kylie's project: a truly amazing knitted Christmas tree!)
Nuts & Bolts and Compost Cookies
Next up was the December meeting of the Inner City brand of the Knitters Guild, and I was on duty for morning tea. I decided to go with a sweet/salty theme and made "Nuts & Bolts" and Compost Cookies. Nuts & Bolts is basically the Australian equivalent of Chex Mix. (Recipe here.) You mix up cereal and nuts with a packet of soup mix and some spices and then bake it in the oven to get crispy. I also add pretzels to mine. This stuff is addictive! The Compost Cookies were famously created at the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. (Recipe here.) The idea is that you throw all kinds of sweet and salty things in there: potato chips, coffee grinds, candy, whatever. I used dark choc chips, meringue pieces, Tim Tams, Sesame Snaps, pretzels, and sea salt crisps. They were pretty good! Even though I chilled them overnight, they still spread quite a bit in the oven. (Always happens. I still haven't gotten the hang of the new oven yet, clearly.) Both dishes were a big hit at the meeting.
Caramel Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake
We got some ladyfinger bananas in one of our FoodConnect boxes, so I decided to turn them into a cake. I'd made this Smitten Kitchen recipe before and the Snook really liked it. I actually divided the batter in two and made two smaller cakes this time: one for us and one to take to work. I still haven't worked out the trick to getting flipping the cakes and getting the caramel out nicely, but the taste outweighs the messiness of the topping. Everybody at work loved it, and the cake I took in disappeared in about 5 minutes!
Candied Gingerbread Men
I had a wild idea to make gingerbread men for our last day of work before the Christmas break. Of course, the only cookie cutter I own is the state of Michigan (don't ask), so I had to go on a search for a proper one. Then I had to decide on a recipe. I went with Serious Eats's Candied Gingerbread Men. It uses crystallized ginger, which I know the Snook likes a lot. He actually did most of the prep for the dough since he was on vacation this week. I cut them out and baked them late Wednesday night. I didn't have any time to decorate them, but they were still tasty. The shapes were amusingly non-standard, mostly because I suck at rolling out dough and cutting consistent shapes. It was good fun though, and it made the whole house smell like Christmas!
It was kind of a crazy week. I had only three full work days to try to finish everything up at the office, and Spudds was cancelled for the holidays. I still managed three runs though so I'm satisfied with that. The one upside to Sydney's cold and grey summer has been how pleasant it is to run!
Dec. 18: 5.02km
Dec. 21: 5.01km
Dec. 23: 2.18km (walking)
Dec. 24: 5.01km
Total this week: 15.04km (9.4mi)
Total in 2011: 1022.89km (639mi)
Only one week to go!
I present to you the cutest thing I've seen in a long time:
That kid in the middle, the one raising his arms every time they sing "shine"? That's my nephew Penn. My sister asked him afterwards if he was supposed to do that. "Nope!" He just felt like it. I love that there was no self-consciousness; he's at that age where he feels joy and he can just express it without worrying about what's cool. Isn't that wonderful? We should all have such moments in our lives. :)
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The Snook has been singing this song every Christmas for as long as I've known him, and this is the first time I've ever seen/heard the original. It's awesome. (I predict my Dad will like it.) I feel like I might have to do an annotated version for all you Yanks though to explain the references! :)
Monday, December 19, 2011
This was our 35th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals. We haven't given up yet! We are still going! We're just a few weeks behind. This is one we had a couple weeks ago, and frankly it wasn't that memorable. It was "Steak Indian-Style with Spinach & Paneer Salad, Naan Breads, and Mango Dessert." We chose it primarily because mangoes came into season! Unfortunately I don't have the time saved on my phone, but I seem to remember it coming in around the 34 minute mark. The Snook was on chef's duty for this one.
Substitutions: We couldn't find Patak's Jalfrezi paste, so we went with Balti instead. We left the cress out of the salad. We also had an unplanned substitution for the naan breads, but you'll see about that soon enough. Other than that, everything was as written in the recipe.
Quick verdict: Okay, Indian style steak?? THAT'S NOT A THING. Most Indians don't even eat beef, much less marinate it in curry paste. It doesn't taste bad; it's just a weird idea. That aside, this meal was mostly okay. However, it's one of the ones where I don't really know how to eat it. There are just lots of small components, along with dips and such, and it's just kind of confusing. Like, am I meant to be making a little open-faced sandwich? Or is it more of a salad? We liked all of the individual components well enough. We both rated it an 8 out of 10. I'm not really sure who you'd make this for, though. I sure won't be serving it to my Indian friends!
Read on for a photo essay of the preparation. [more...]
Holding steady. Work has been really busy in these last weeks before Christmas, so I haven't been able to squeeze in any training sessions at Spudds. I did still manage my three runs though!
Dec. 11: 7.65km
Dec. 14: 5.17km
Dec. 15: 2.76km (walking)
Dec. 16: 5.86km
Total this week: 18.68km (11.6mi)
Total in 2011: 1007.85km (630mi)
And I've crossed the 1000km mark! There isn't really any chance I'm going to rack up 93km in the next two weeks, so I'm not quite going to reach my goal of 1100km in 2011. But I'm already past last year's total, so I count that as a win. I'm also very happy to see that my fitness is recovering nicely from being sick. I still have a post-viral cough, but my doctor confirmed my lungs are clear and I'm good to run. My speed has been coming back a little more with every workout. Onwards and upwards...
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Here are my final two pairs of socks for the 2011 "Super Special Six Pattern Sock Club"! First up are the Nanner Socks from wendy knits. These were knitted at the same time on a pair of 2.75mm circular needles. The wool is Knitabulous Yarn Ultimate Sock in "Sorbet". If my socks look weird to you compared to the pattern photo, it’s because I knitted them incorrectly. I only discovered it when my friends at Sewjourn noticed the difference. It turns out that I had followed the charts exactly... and missed the bit of text that explained how you were to insert a row of plain knitting every other row. Oops. So my lace scallop repeats are only half as high as they should be. My only planned modification was to gradually add in an extra repeat on the leg portion, just to give a bit more room in the cuff. That worked out pretty well! My complaint about these socks is that they bias and twist really badly. I'm not sure whether that's due to the pattern or due to my error in knitting them. More photos are available over on Ravelry.
These are the Boyfriend Socks from slippedstitch, which I only finished last night. They were knitted toe-up one-at-a-time on a pair of 2.75mm circular needles. The wool is Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett. The photos aren't very colour-accurate; the green is a lot stronger in person. (This is probably my least favourite of the Kaffe Fassett colourways.) The pattern is interesting. From the photos I thought that the cables actually travelled, but they don’t. Instead when the pattern repeat ends, some knits become purls and vice versa. It's weird at first, but you get used to it. I eventually had it memorised. I used Judy's Magic Cast-On for the toe and knitted the heel as written in the pattern. I knitted 3.5 repeats of the cables, then did a couple P2tog so that it turned nicely into K2P2 ribbing. Then I just ribbed til I ran out of wool. They fit the Snook nicely. Again, more photos over on Ravelry.
And that's it! Six pairs of socks done for 2011. I didn't do any substitutions; I knitted all the socks as set out a year ago: Shur-tugal, Nutkin, Leyburn, Fox Faces, Nanners, and Boyfriend. I also used up quite a bit of sock yarn from stash, which is always welcome. Yay!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
I am back on the horse! My cough is nearly gone and I managed three runs this week along with a workout at Spudds. I'm trying to hold back and build up slowly, but it feels so great to be able to exercise again.
Dec. 4: 4.79km
Dec. 6: 5.16km
Dec. 9: 5.20km
Total this week: 15.15km (9.5mi)
Total in 2011: 989.17km (618.2mi)
There's still no chance that I'll meet my goal of running 1100km in 2011, but I'm assured of breaking 1000km. Last year I managed 1002km, so I'll definitely surpass that.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
This flu has really wrecked my training plans for the end of the year. I'm still coughing a lot at night, but it seems to be easing up during the day a bit. So today I went out for my first run in 2.5 weeks. I took it very easy with five minutes' walk to warm up and then 2:1 run/walk intervals (at a slow pace). I felt pretty good! I didn't feel any need to cough during the running portions, but on the walks I could tell how weak my lungs are. It felt good to be out in the fresh air and sunshine though. I am excited to put November behind me and kick off my training plan for the Gold Coast Marathon!
Nov. 28: 2.81km (walking)
Dec. 1: 2.81km (walking)
Dec. 2: 4.06km
Total this week: 4.06km
Total in 2011: 974.02km (608.7mi)
To meet my goal of running 1100km in 2011, I'd need to run 126km in the next 4 weeks. That's 31.5km a week. I don't think it's gonna happen, folks.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The Snook used Everyday to take a photo just about every morning throughout the month. This short animation shows them all in time lapse. I think it's funniest if you keep your eye on his upper lip. The hair just comes shooting right out!
Thanks again to everybody who donated!
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