Hot and Dry

I am due for a ten mile run.  Yesterday morning knowing it would be hot, I put on my runners’/hikers’ hydration backpack.  It is like a Camelbak, but is made by Coleman.  It is designed to strap securely in place so it doesn’t bounce up and down during a run, but it adds some weight and a sloshing sound.  I also wore a running cap, sunscreen, and my good lightweight sports sunglasses.  I used the water not just for drinking, but to wet my legs and torso.  That really helped.  But in truth I got started on my run too late in the morning.  It was getting too hot too quick.  Around mile 4, I decided it would not be good to go the whole ten miles, so I cut the run in half, and finished with five miles.

Then later in the day, at dusk, I did some kayaking, which I’m calling cross training.  Even that was hot.  There was practically no breeze, even on the water as the sun was setting.  I’m so ready for a break from this heat.  And I still need to get that 10-miler in sometime this week.  Sigh.

I did see this person flying a kite as I was running.  It lifted my spirits as I went by.

And then I had to lament about the extreme drought we are experiencing.  A few weeks ago this was a beautiful, tall, green corn field.  Now it is brown and burned up from the heat and drought.

I’m looking forward to that next good rain.

Lake House Closet, part 1

My quilting stash is stored in a large cupboard.  And a closet.  Occasionally I do a cleanout.  It is usually on a miserable day when it is rainy, bitter cold, or I’m snowed in.  Yesterday with yet another day of 100+ degree temps outdoors, I pulled out my stash of vintage scraps and UFOs (unfinished objects).  These cleanouts usually lead to the start of a new project, or more accurately stated, the finish of a long-ago-started project.  Here is my previous Lake House Closet project:

I actually titled this quilt, “Lake House Closet.”  It consists of two sets of blocks I had made at different times while experimenting with no clear goal in mind for a finished product.  The blocks in the center diamond were from a quilt book by Marcia McCloskey.  The rose bud blocks in the border were from a Pam Bono book.  The large floral blocks in the quilt were fabrics I had on hand but had not yet identified for a project.  Below is a slightly better view of the rose bud blocks.  And of Buddy, who insists on testing all of my works-in-progress.

So, yesterday I identified a project to finish.  It is a box of yoyo blocks started by my great-grandmother.

Also in the box are circles that have been cut but not made into yoyos; and her circle pattern.

Here is why I chose this project to finish now:

This week her circle pattern turns 70 years old.

So, I’ve decided to first sew together the existing blocks.  Here is the layout I have planned.

The dimensions are 35″ x 29″.  The green block is a place holder.  I’ll make up a block of the print yoyos to fit that spot.  There are only 2 and a half of those green blocks, with no fabric to make more, so I don’t know what I will do with those.  But I’ll think of something.

Once the existing yoyos and blocks are sewn together, then I’ll decide when and how to get the other yoyos made.  Maybe I’ll start taking them to guild meetings.  That is 2 hours per month of quality time for doing hand work.

There will be no estimated time frame for getting the rest of the yoyos made.  But I want to have the existing yoyos sewn together this week in something that on its own looks like a finished quilt.  Stay tuned for progress photos.

Reading

Infinite Jest.  I nearly always have a sewing project that I work on only periodically and therefore takes months or years to be finished.  I’m reading a book that way now.  The book is Infinite Jest, written by David Foster Wallace and published in 1996.  I love reading it, but I keep getting distracted by other books.  Usually the other books are shorter and more contemporary fiction.  Once I finish the “distraction,” I return for more of Infinite Jest.

Infinite Jest is a 1000+ page saga that requires concentration to absorb every detail.  It is on the Time 100 best novels written since 1923 (aka the beginning of Time).  http://entertainment.time.com/2005/10/16/all-time-100-novels/#how-we-picked-the-list 

The book is set in North America in the then-not-too-distant future.  Some of the future projections made by the author have eerily become true since the book was written.  Example:  “Entertainment cartridges” that are inserted and played through the TV, are delivered to households, watched, and then returned via the mail service; i.e., a 1996 vision of what now looks remarkably like Netflix.  Other projections are not far out of the realm of possibility, especially to a cynical thinker.  Example:  Calendar years come with corporate naming rights as opposed to chronological numbers.  “YDAU” is the Year of the Depends Adult Undergarment.   Memorable scenarios that play out in the early part of the book include an awkward college entrance interview; and a dad who sends his son to a conversation consultant (ostensibly to help him develop his conversational skills).  The son realizes on the first visit with the conversation consultant that the consultant is actually his dad in disguise; it is a plan the dad conceived in order to trick his son into having a conversation with him.

There will be future updates as I continue to make my way through the book.

In the meantime, I’m reminded of the book every time I go for a run.  Last year Infinite Jest was gifted with its own awesome tribute song and video–by The Decemberists.  I have added the song to my running mix on my mp3 player.  It’s an excellent, fun running song, so it will probably stay in my running mix for a long time; possibly through the Year of the Chewable Ambien Tab.

Cross Training

I’m a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  This week was the 4th anniversary of Sarah and me being Big Sis and Little Sis.  To celebrate we went out to dinner at the restaurant of her choice, and then went ice skating.  Two hours of ice skating is a workout.  At least that is what my quads were telling me.  Those rental ice skates with the hard plastic boot are awful, like the worst pair of ski boots.  I wore my toughest pair of running socks, hoping to prevent blisters, but they could only do so much.  I did get one big blister that bled into my precious Balegas.  But ugly blister aside, I count this activity as an excellent cross training session; a fringe benefit to spending another fun evening of quality time with my very cool Little Sis.

Inaugural Wearing

Simplicity SewSimple #1998.  I saw this simple, inexpensive dress pattern at the store, thought it was adorable and was compelled to try it.  No buttons or zippers.  No darts or plackets.  No set in sleeves.  No hand sewing.  Just a front center pleat.

I chose a large, bold print.  I have lots of fun with large prints.  Do they work for me?  I don’t know, but it is fun to wear them.

It took me about 30 minutes to construct the entire dress, which unfortunately turned out to be huge.  Then it took another few hours, off and on, to tailor it to my size, shape and taste.

I searched the internet for comments from others who had tried the pattern.  I was inspired by this blog to keep going with my adjustments:    http://montanachic.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/sew-simple-1998/                         I loved her design and write up.

Like Montanachic, I too had to first tame the “cone of shame” that was the collar.  In comparing the picture on the pattern envelope to my as-constructed collar, let me just say that “objects are larger than they appear.”   The collar on my dress was huge and flamboyant.  That might be a cool feature for an evening dress, but not for me and the simple wear-to-the-office-on-a-hot-day dress I was shooting for.

I took in the collar and dress by several inches in both the front and back.  In the front I accomplished this by enlarging the center dress pleat, and constructing a right angle fold in the collar.  Then I embellished the center front with a button.

In the back I added a center box pleat that took another 4 inches out of the collar.  I extended the pleat on down to a spot between my shoulder blades.  I stopped the pleat there so as to retain the fullness of the lower skirt, which was necessary because the skirt is not as wide as it looks on the pattern envelope.

The sleeves are almost too big and wing-like for my taste, but I think I can live with them.  This design would be a great alternative for someone who does not like to wear sleeveless dresses.  I would not want to use a stiffer fabric, though, as that would have made the sleeves stick out too much for me.

I can’t say this is the finished product.  The hem is temporary; I will probably let it out an inch.  I’m thinking a wide navy belt would also be an enhancement, which would necessitate letting the hem out a little more or wearing the dress as a tunic when it’s belted.

All in all, this dress won’t make my personal dress hall-of-fame.  But it will be light and comfortable on hot days.   I want to try another version that can be worn as a jumper in cold weather, with a blouse or turtleneck underneath, and tights.  The jumper will likely be a tweed rather than a shockingly large print.

The Pattern:  Simplicity Sew-Simple #1998

Another nice adaptation!   http://www.sewcountrychick.com/2011/12/silver-grey-new-years-dress-simplicity.html

I wore the dress to work today.  It was comfortable.  On my way home I stopped at Dillons, and a few steps into the door, I was stopped by a cashier who told me she loved my dress.  Yesss!

Run

It is sooo hot for running right now.  I’m registered for a half marathon in three weeks, but I will not be in very good shape for it.  I will finish, but with my current conditioning level and the August heat factor, I will not finish at a pace I want to brag about.  Or even tell anybody.  It will be my secret.  What I am doing well right now, is tracking my nutritional intake.  This spring and summer I have drastically increased my intake of milk and fruits.  In other words, lots of smoothies, and lots of salad wraps made with plain yogurt as the dressing base.  My energy level has soared, and I am losing weight and feeling toned.  Not a bad thing.

Strawberry Smoothie.

5 whole frozen strawberries

2 T. honey

1 c. plain nonfat yogurt

Blend until smooth and a little bit frothy.

Smoothie recipes are everywhere, and there is nothing unique about mine, other than it fits my personal taste buds and my keep-it-simple mantra.  I like it best when I’ve made my own yogurt from skim milk.  In this heat, I start thinking in the afternoon about how good my smoothie will taste when I get home.  Then I get home, make and drink my smoothie, and then fix myself a dinner entree, and then about an hour before sunset, when hopefully it has cooled down some outdoors, I drag myself out for a run.

Nutritional information (based on package labels and USDA database):

Calories–267

Calcium–496 mg

Fat–0.36 g

Sugar–44.7 g

Fiber–1.1 g

Protein–5.96 g

Sodium–190 g

Vitamin C–22.7 mg

Phosphorus–392 mg