Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's (another) girl!

2010 (and 2011) are going down in my books as the "Year of the Girl".  So far, all of my friends who are expecting or have given birth have had girls!  It's amazing and strange and wonderful.

This has meant (and will in the next few months), the creation of baby girl blankets for each of them.  You may remember my knitting project from the summer... the new owner loves having it over her lap while sitting in her swing, from what I hear.

Here's my latest project.  How fun!  How easy!
I completed it earlier this month, but since I didn't give it to Mom till today, I thought it best to wait to post it (in case she visited the blog before today).

This is definitely not my last "no-sew-throw"... especially since there are more babies on the way!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12-of-12: December 2010

Mmmmm, it's Sunday.  A day for rest and relaxation after a very busy week.

Today's also the 12th - the day we have fun snapping pictures of the day as we participate in Chad Darnell's 12-of-12.  So, off we go to our favorite place - the Erie County Forestry - for a nice hike.  It was 40-degrees today and a little rainy, but that didn't stop us.

First, we make our way to the top of the hill...
My girl's paw prints and my size 6s
Sap lines are up and ready for the Spring thaw
 The kids are way ahead...
...but stop and wait at the bridge.

This next shot is a repeat from a previous 12-of-12; October 2009

Believe it or not, some trees still have their leaves
Stubborn Beech
... and the water is really moving today from rain and snow-melt.

So peaceful... we had the woods all to ourselves.
Here's one more October 2009 repeat...

Now we're home... snugged up inside with a nice fire and mug of tea...
... and another favorite winter activity... puzzle-making!

A View from the Porch:
The start of December brought our first significant snowfall of the year.  Since then, it's snowed on-and-off, leaving us with almost a foot of snow.  You wouldn't know it today, however.  The rain and temps in the 40s has made everything a soggy, melty mess.
You can even see "steam" rising from the snow in this shot.

So, that's the end of the 12-of-12 for 2010.  I am happy to say I was able to participate every month this year!  I'm also happy that Chad is going to continue the 12-of-12 tradition at least another year.

All the best for a happy & healthy holiday season.  
See you next year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Turn the Page... Tuesday

Okay, I know.  It's Friday.  I had every intention of getting this post done on Tuesday, but I just couldn't swing it.

Let's just say, it's been quite a roller-coaster of a month so far.  Maybe I'll blog about it later... but not today.

Today is for books... yet another piece of my life I've neglected recently.  I'm back to reading for enjoyment instead of reading for obligation, so I hope I'll have some good stuff to share next month.

For this month's TTP...T, however, I simply get to say that I (finally) finished River Horse: Across America by Boat by William Least Heat-Moon.

As the title suggests, this is the journal of a man (and his crew) who cross the United States via the American waterways.  They stopped at various towns along the way and comment on noteworthy or historical places & events (Lewis & Clark's expedition is referenced often.)

The story was interesting, and enjoyable, but not very exciting.  Now, if I was on this trip, I would have hoped it would be rather uneventful.  No run-ins with wild animals or bad weather, no overturned boats or seasickness.  But, as a reader, it was a bit of a chore to get thru the voyage.

We read this for Book Club; our meeting was last week.  Out of 30 people, 1/2 did not complete the story due to the "bore factor."  The other half seemed to agree that it was a story of a man's indulgent trip, not very thrilling to the reader, but interesting nonetheless.  Average rating was 3 out of 5.  This was my rating as well.

So, if you're looking for the meandering read of a unique travel book, you might like River Horse.  If you're looking for action-packed suspense... this is definitely NOT the read for you.

Again, sorry for my delay in posting.  Thanks to Adrienne at Some of a Kind for leading this virtual book club every month.  Join in next time!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

C25K: Complete!

It took a little longer than the prescribed 8-9 weeks (12 to be exact), but I did it.

I completed a 5K, yesterday.

It wasn't a full "running" 5K... I started out with 1/4 mile warm-up walk, then ran thru to the 3.0 mile mark, then walked the remaining 0.1 for my cool down.

It was a nice way to finish week 12 of the Couch to 5K Running Program.

Next week...
The warm-up & cool down won't be included in my time/distance.
I'm going to warm up, reset the counter and run the full 3.1 miles.

My goal has now changed... to run an 8K (5 miles)!

Friday, November 12, 2010

12-of-12: November 2010

It's Friday and the 12th of November.  That means it's 12-of-12 time!

What better way enjoy the 12th of the month?  I know!  Take the day off from work and start the long weekend off with a road trip.  Even MORE exciting was the weather.  Temps in the mid-60s today (almost unheard of in Western New York State, in November).

Oh, don't let me forget to first thank to Chad Darnell for starting the 12-of-12 and keeping it going all these years.  Visit his site to learn more about the project and how you can participate!

6:30am at home:
Starting the day off right with a little run.  2.72 miles, to be exact.  I'm working my way up to a 5K (and maybe, later, an 8K).  Sorry for the blurry shot... I didn't realize I had the camera on the wrong setting till after the workout was over.  Oh well, you don't want to see me & my "running face" anyway. :)
... shower up, have breakfast, then chuck the hubby & pups in the car, and off we go!

Noon - 5pm at Allegany State Park, Salamanca, NY:
Today's visit was our second to Allegany this week.  We were in the Red House Area on Sunday, then today we made our way down to the other "developed" section of the park, Quaker.

But first, a stop at Red House... the lake was calm as glass...

At Quaker Lake, we're reminded that this is a man-made environment.  The Dam (with water-regulating spillway) turned this valley into a 275-acre lake.
Have I mentioned it was a warm day today?
With temps in the 60s, everyone came out to play.
The Ladybugs...
and the Ruffed Grouse (this little guy was seriously flirting with someone).

Our last stop of the day was Science Lake... named after the Science Museum nearby. 
Can you see the moon in the sky and the reflection in this 1st photo?

What a surprise!  As we finished up our hike around the lake, we found this little guy (gal?) and two friends swimming around their dam. 

Back at home, 6:30PM:
Neither of us felt like cooking after our busy day, so we got an order of Wings (being from Buffalo, we don't call them Buffalo Wings) to go and headed home.  We were obviously hungry, because we devoured them in a matter of minutes.  YUM!

Sorry, folks, there's no "View from the Porch" this month.  I forgot to take a photo before we left today, and it was way too dark to get a shot after we got home.  Oh well... maybe I'll snap a quick shot tomorrow morning and post it a little late.

Thanks for stopping by!  See you next month!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

LOVE = Treadmill

I never thought I'd say this - but I am totally LOVING this machine!
It's been almost three weeks that I've been using it to continue my running workouts (since it is WAY TOO dark and cold to run outside at 6:30am).

Monday-Wednesday-Friday I am out of bed at 6am, dressed and ready to run at 6:30.

For the last week (or more?) I've been running 20+ minute intervals (no walking).  This week I hit 30-minutes of running!

Running... for 30-minutes straight!

The last time I ran this long without a walk-break I hurt myself (see my Pain. No gain. post).  But today I feel strong and almost ready to try a 5K run.

Monday's workout was the first 30-minute run of the week.  Tomorrow, I'll do it again.  Then again on Friday.  My distance is only about 2.5 miles of running (2.75 with warm-up and cool-down), but that's because I haven't pushed myself faster than 4.4 mph.  Within the next couple weeks, I'll up the speed a bit and, hopefully, get to 3.1-miles in my 40-minute workout.

If I haven't said so recently... the Couch to 5K Running Plan WORKS! 

I am living proof.  I have never been a good runner (I'm still not a great runner), but this program is exactly what someone like me needs to succeed.  Now, I haven't completed the program in 9 weeks like it prescribes, but I'm close (I started about 12-weeks ago)... AND, I'm going to get there, just at my own pace.

A friend of mine asked me to run in Buffalo's Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.  This is an 8K race (5-miles).  I KNOW I'm not ready to run the 5-mile course, but she says she's going to walk some of it... so maybe I'll join her for a Turkey Trot-Walk-Trot-Walk.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Treadmill Running

I am now the proud owner of a fantastic "gently used" treadmill! 
HOORAY!  (Thanks, Mom & Dad G)

The mornings are quite dark now and the temps are falling (and so is the rain).  I don't mind the cool temperatures (it's quite nice, actually), but the darkness is too much.  I worry about cars not seeing me, even tho I wear the most obnoxious day-glow yellow jacket available and there might be "crazies" out in the dark who want to steal me.

So, about a month ago I decided I would start my search for a treadmill.  It didn't take very long once I posted a note about my search on Facebook.  I got a number of recommendations and then an offer I couldn't refuse.  My in-laws hadn't used their treadmill in a long time and were happy to get it out of their house.  So, with that (and an offer of a pick-up truck and manual labor from a friend - also on FB) I got myself a treadmill.

It was delivered last Saturday.  :)

Monday I re-started Week 6 of the Couch to 5K Running Plan, now running INSIDE!

I learned from a friend that running on a treadmill is different from running outside.  (I kind-of figured that was the case since one doesn't need to propel oneself forward on a treadmill, just lift your feet.  "Just" - hahah)  He suggested I bump the incline up to 5% to get the same workout inside as outside. 

So, I did.  I also estimated my average speed at 5.0mph.


This machine kicked my @$$.

Less than 1/2 way through my run I was sweating like crazy and totally out of breath.  I brought the incline down to 3% and reduced my speed to 4.0mph.  I finished the run strong and happy that I completed Week 6, Day 1.

On to Day 2.  Wednesday.  I started this day at 3% and 4.0mph.  I learned during the session that I could increase my speed by increments of 0.1 (instead of 1.0mph - read the owners manual.  I don't need no stinkin owners manual) and thus bumped my run speed up to 4.2.  This made for two challenging, but "comfortable" 10-minute run intervals.

Tomorrow, is Day 3.  25-minutes of running.  No walking.  I'm a little anxious about it, but am going to do my best to complete the run without any walk time.  I'll let you know how it goes.

So, what have I learned so far about treadmill running?
* It's a completely consistent.  When I run outside, I can slow my pace if I'm tired.  When the treadmill says 4.2, I run 4.2.  No slacking off.
* I need to find something to watch while I run.  Minutes feel very long when I'm just staring at the walls.
* I can focus on form instead of watching for rocks, sticks, woolly bear caterpillars or other obstacles.
* I can run all winter... now neither rain nor sleet nor cover of darkness can stop me.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

12-of-12: October 2010

Today I had a plan.
Tho it was a work day, I made time to have fun and get some interesting shots on this 12th day of October.  I had to, today is my 2-year anniversary of participating in the 12-of-12 Project!
So what did I do after I got out of work at 1pm?  

I went to the Buffalo Zoo, of course!!  

I couldn't believe it... I'd snapped over 300 photos during the day... it was SO difficult to pick only 12.  If you'd like to see the large set of my favorites, you can visit this link.

As always, if you want to see the full scale version of the photo, just click on it!


Can't forget the View from the Porch...  Nothing really exciting this month - 
The REAL excitement comes when you take a look at "our hill"... check out this incredible fall foliage!

Many thanks to Chad Darnell for starting the 12-of-12 Project.  If you want more information or want to participate, visit his website.  Extra special thanks to Chad for announcing that the 12-of-12 will continue till at least December 2011.

Friday, October 8, 2010

C25K: Week 5 Update

I did it!
I finished Week 5 with a HUGE success!

But first... here's the story.
I run/walk Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Up till this week, all three days have been the same (the same run/walk times, that is).

This week had a structure like this (after a 5-minute warm-up):
  Day 1 - Run 5 minutes, Walk 3 minutes, Run 5, Walk 3, Run 5, cool-down.
  Day 2 - Run 8 minutes, Walk 5, Run 8, cool-down.
  Day 3 - RUN 20 MINUTES, cool down.

Today was Day 3.
Today was DAY 3... and I did it!

I can't believe I ran for 20-minutes in a row.
No, that's not true.
I thought I could do it. 
I just wasn't 100% sure.

I'm SO happy.

Such an interesting experience, too.
The first 5-minutes were tough.  I breathed funny - because I hadn't got my rhythm yet - I struggled on the first hill, and I had to keep repeating "I can do this. I can do this" to myself.
The middle of the run was GREAT!  I felt like I could run for miles and miles.
Toward the end, I could feel my legs getting a little tired... not too tired (and maybe it was all mental), but they knew it was the longest they've run in a while.
Finally the 20-minutes came to an end.  I ran a few extra seconds because I could - it felt good.
Then, I walked.
Then, I blasted my way up the last hill... WOW, that felt AMAZING.  It was the best hard run I've ever had.
Then, I walked the rest of the way home... feeling on top of the world.

The Couch to 5K Program REALLY works!
I also need to thank Robert Ullrey whose Podcast "Podcasts for Running" help me track my running time each day of the week.  If you're thinking of starting a running program, Robert's podcast is GREAT.  I downloaded mine from iTunes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Turn the Page... Tuesday, September 2010

Did I say I'd have more time to read in August?  Yes... because I thought I'd have finished the baby blanket by then.  Well, I was wrong.  I just finished the blanket this weekend.  So, now the fall reading can begin - that is, unless I find myself a new project to distract me.

I'm only a little further into River Horse (by William Least-Heat Moon) from where I was last month.  I started to getting into the meat of "the journey across America by boat"... but then I  got distracted.

I'm also working on reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin to read for the October meeting of Book Club.  I'm 1/3 into this one, as well - Greg has recovered from his climbing mishap and is now on a mission to help poor, rural children of Pakistan get an education.  So far, so good.

Photo from ThreeCupsofTea.com

BUT, ya know what?
I have a confession to make.

I feel like I'm chasing book club selections and not sitting down to read one book at a time.  I'm rushing through the books to try to "keep up" with the club.  When I rush, I can't enjoy myself or the story.

SO... here's my plan.
I'm going to finish Three Cups of Tea before I move any further with River Horse (or any other book). 
I'm also going to stop reading any book that I don't find interesting or compelling.
I'm not going to force myself to read a book just because my Book Club is reading it.

I'm a slow reader.  I want to enjoy what I read and not feel like it's an "assignment".

I hope I will have meaningful contributions to 'TTP... T' in future months.  Sadly, today, I don't have much to give.  I need to wait till I'm done to comment on these stories.

Hope you enjoyed your reading this summer.  Please visit Some of a Kind to see what others are reading... then play along!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A little over a month

It's been 5-weeks that I've been steadily working my way through the Couch to 5K Running Plan. 

This last week was a bit messed up due to my work schedule (two very early mornings), the weather (rain, rain, rain), and slight pain from other workouts (plies - ouch).  But, I'm proud to say that I ran for 11-minutes straight today, the longest consecutive time I've run since the triathlon (probably about a mile and a half).

So, what has the last month been like?  Well...
*  First, the change from barely being able to run for 60-seconds to running for over 10-minutes is a pretty good feeling.
*  I have seen some good changes in my physique - especially in my stomach & legs - they're shrinking!
*  I haven't changed my diet much (still working on increasing the healthy stuff and reducing the high-sugar stuff).  Even so, I've lost a pound since September 1st.  heheh... one pound.  It's not much, but it's a move in the right direction.
*  I'm motivated to continue.  Yes, there are times when I hurt before, during and after a run, but I'm want to succeed so badly (completing a 5K and then doing well in the 2011 Triathlon), that I will not give up.
*  I'm working on making sure I take "time off"... I run 3-days a week, most weeks.  Then I try to squeeze in another workout sometime during the week (a long walk, bike ride, cardio dvd, etc).  Since I'm not very skilled at running and I don't want to hurt myself, I'm trying to manage activities so that I get the most return from my "investment" without any setbacks.  I'm doing okay, but as I mentioned above, I changed my schedule a bit this week because of pain.
*  I focus on form.  Not only do I want to run, but I want to run properly.  I focus on form throughout my run to be sure I'm not doing anything that might hurt rather than help.
*  Like everyone, I have good days and bad days.  Days when I feel strong and days I wonder what the hell I'm doing.  But all-in-all, I'm happy I'm trying again.  I don't love running, but I feel good when I do it and hope to be able to happily run a 5K in the next few months.

If you're trying to improve your health & fitness... if there's one piece of advice I can give, it's to keep going.  It doesn't matter if you're the fastest or thinnest or most athletic.  The only thing that means anything is that you're doing your best and having fun along the way.

More updates next month!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Woodstock: The big Finale

If there's one thing I love about travel, it's being able to see things I can ONLY see at the location to which I'm traveling.  That's what made our final day in Woodstock SO INCREDIBLE.

Our first stop was a bit of a teaser.  We drove up to Kaaterskill Falls trail but didn't have time to see the big falls (Katterskill) this day (had to get home).  However, we DID have time to see Bastion Falls since it's so close to Route 23a.  Tho smaller than it's sister Falls, Bastion is still quite beautiful.  Next time, we'll make the 1/2 mile hike up to the top falls.
... so happy to share my weekend with Elizabeth!

Then off to the BIG FINALE!  

Imagine you are a brilliant sculpture who just bought a now-defunct bluestone quary.  Then you start building ramps and walkways out of this stone to exhibit your sculptures.  Then, imagine the work grows to such a size and complexity that it becomes a work of art in and of itself.  This is what you get... Opus 40.  You will want to click on the photos to see the full-size images.
One man, Harvey Fite, created this beauty from 1938 - 1976
The Monolith is 9-tons, lifted entirely by traditional 1930s quarrying tools.
The bluestone covers over 6-acres
Not one drop of cement or material to hold the stones in place... just balance and gravity.
If you are ever in the Woodstock, NY area you MUST visit Opus 40.  
It is simply breathtaking - beautiful and peaceful - and the PERFECT way to spend an afternoon.