It was a sad thing to wake up to the other day - news of the bombing at the finish line of the Boston marathon. Clearly designed to target innocent spectators, when the majority of the marathon runners would be crossing the finish line. What was supposed to be a happy day for thousands turned out to be a horror day. I will never understand what kind of person could possibly conceive of doing something so inherently evil - something they had thought about and planned at great length, to injure and kill people they have never met - men, women and children alike, for what? Notoriety? Yet they haven't come forward to lay claim to their deed. It saddens me a great deal, particularly when young children are involved. I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed yesterday and was confronted with the image of that sweet little eight year old boy that was killed in the bombing, whose sister lost both her legs, and whose mother is in critical condition with severe head injuries. What else could I do but sit and cry, thinking of how unjust it was, and feeling so much hurt for the father and husband that has to deal with the aftermath of this event.
So many horrible things happening in the world. Just now scanning MSN, there is a story of 60-70 people killed in an explosion at a fertiliser plant in Texas, and another of a bomb explosion in Southern India. Accidental or intentional, such loss of life is upsetting. I try not to dwell, and focus instead on the amazing men and women with the strength and fortitude to help others in these situations - people employed in the profession, and complete strangers who just happened to be nearby. Emergency response workers are the best people in the world, don't you think? Everyday heroes, all of them. It's certainly not a job I could do, I'd be a nervous wreck!
These events make me appreciate all the more the recent news in New Zealand. Many of you (likely everyone reading this) will know that the marriage equality bill was passed in Parliament yesterday. If that was not cause for celebration enough, I woke up this morning to posts all through my Twitter feed from people all around the world congratulating New Zealand on such a fantastic result. It was simply wonderful to see, and it warmed my heart. The footage of the spectators in the gallery above the MPs in the House of Parliament breaking into song (one of my favourite New Zealand songs) brought tears of happiness to me this morning, a ridiculously big grin, and pride in our nation and its people. Plus, National MP Maurice Williamson's speech was just priceless :-)
Onward with life in general then - an assignment is being worked on at the moment, after getting a disappointing B for the last one. I thought I'd done better than that. Oh well...
Knitting is going okay. I was surprised to find that there were still a large number of spots left on my Sock Madness team for round three last weekend, and decided I might as well finish the rather-challenging-yet-easy-to-knit socks:
Greenhouse socks by Anita Grahn, knit with PennyRose sock yarn (Penny) in the aptly named colourway, Orange. They were fairly straightforward in that the pattern itself was knits and purls, with yarn overs and decreases. Fairly standard knitting stuff. The challenging part was keeping track of the pattern with its bias stitches. I knit the cuff about a half inch too long on the first sock which was entirely my own fault for not reading the pattern properly, then I ended up knitting an extra pattern repeat in the leg, again my own fault. Too hard to frog back, so just knit the second sock to match. Everything else went perfectly fine until I got to the second toe and couldn't for the life of me figure out where I needed to start it. Comparing the two socks didn't really help me, nor did measuring the foot. You'd think it would, but no. I ended up having to guestimate where I had to start the toe, and was out by four rows. However at that stage I was past the point of caring. This kind of pattern is rather fiddly to tink back and I wouldn't even consider trying to frog. Plus, it had one of the most unusual bind offs I've seen for a sock thus far, and I wasn't keen on trying to attempt undoing that, so I'm just going to leave it as it is. They're going to the kids' school librarian, and to be honest I don't think she'll notice. It's going to niggle at me that they're just that little bit wrong, but I just have to move on and stop sweating the little things.
Speaking of sweating (haha), I've been doing a bit of that lately. Not only is my running back on track (hurrah!! More on this shortly), I've set myself a couple of little extra challenges on the side. I stumbled across a site that has daily workouts that you can do at home, and on it (from last year) is a 30 day workout challenge. I started on Monday and so far it's going well. They're only 12 minutes long, but they're hard work and definitely make you sweat. Good stuff! (Note to friends and family: no, I have absolutely no intention of trying to look like the freakishly skinny woman who is demonstrating the workouts that has not a single ounce of fat on her. She's scary-looking and clearly very image-conscious. I just like the workouts. That is all. Mmmkay? Right then, let's move on.) I'm also doing a 30 day squat challenge. You start the first day with 50 squats, and on the last day you're up to 250. Challenge accepted! Mwaahahahahaha!!! Squats are good for strengthening my quads, which is what I need to keep my knees run-ready. Just so you know. A good-looking butt is just a side benefit ;-)
So with my running, I've had to back-track quite a bit due to the drop in fitness level after having a month off. I got Paula Radcliffe's 'How to Run' book out from the library and at the moment I'm following the 5km to 10km training programme. After that I'll move on to the 10km to half marathon training, then the half to full marathon training. Because I still intend on running a full marathon before I'm 36. I'm 34 this year, and if you know me, you'll know I like to have plenty of time up my sleeve - for anything from arriving at an appointment on time to finishing an assignment to achieving a set goal. I prefer not to have to work under pressure ;-) Training is a little slow-going at the moment compared to the beginning of the year. Running 5km is challenge enough! And to think that three months ago I could run 25... But I want to keep running, and that means pacing myself and my training, and not over-doing it. So slow-going it is! I was actually a little dubious about this morning's run, which was to be a 6.5km run with hills. I hate hills! Having found Tuesday's 5km flat run tiring, I wasn't sure I would be able to pull it off. But, with nothing but my own thoughts going through my head up those hills (just to the next corner, next corner, next corner) I managed to run the full 6.5km, hills and all, without stopping. I was pretty proud of that effort I must admit. Then after a wee sit-down and a glass of water I did today's 30 day challenge workout (no squats today, it was a rest day) so it was a pretty good workout this morning. Right now I'm more than happy to blob on the couch with a very full tummy from dinner and some knitting to do. Tomorrow is cross-training day, so I'll be on my bike. It's still really boring, so I'm thinking of getting a bike computer so I can track my progress in terms of distance and speed (on a stationary bike, haha!). That'll help the time go a little faster I think. I've figured out a way of balancing my kindle on the handlebars on top of a wee towel draped over the middle, so at least I can read while I ride :-)
What else is going on...? Ah, knitting. Since I'm between SM rounds, I've been working on my Cassidy cardigan and have nearly finished the front right panel - should have it done tonight. So that's the body complete, which leaves the sleeves, the hood, and the button bands. Hmm, there's definitely something to be said for one-piece garments. I'm very tempted to cast on the tea leaves cardigan with the Cascade yarn I bought in Vancouver (same colour as the wedding afghan I knit). But I should probably knit that sweater I promised Deane last winter first... Maybe I should just cast on ALL THE THINGS!!!
The boys will have their last day of school for the term tomorrow, which means they'll be home with me for the next couple of weeks. That means that a) I'd better get my assignment finished tomorrow so I can submit it and not have to worry about it, and b) I'll have even more time in the kitchen to cook and bake yummy food! My latest experiments have been varied - I made some oatcakes, which I've been meaning to try for ages. They're delicious with brie and roasted vegetable chutney. Yesterday's lunch was carrot and edamame salad. It was okay, but nothing extraordinary. I actually kind of prefer edamame just on its own with a little salt, so maybe I'll stick with that. Although this edamame scramble is pretty awesome. What is also awesome is this apple cider pork and potatoes. That's twice now that I've cooked pork and actually enjoyed it. This recipe was the easiest to make and sooooooo delicious!! The potatoes... OMG. Have I already told you about this? I probably have. But it was so good, perhaps it's worth telling you again ;-) And breakfast this morning and yesterday was a little out of the ordinary for Deane and I. The boys had pancakes yesterday and chocolate chip waffles this morning, but we had chia pudding. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was rather good. I was low on almond milk and coconut milk unfortunately, and didn't want to use coconut cream, so just used normal lite milk. It worked perfectly well, although I can imagine making it with soy or coconut milk would be pretty yummy. Yesterday we had it with sliced banana and maple syrup, and this morning we had pears and maple syrup. I've run out of chia seeds now, but next time I'll try it with coconut milk, and maybe have some blueberries and agave syrup or something. Yum!!! I also got T to eat carrots the other day, by making these carrot chips. I didn't leave mine to cool, and they didn't go crispy, but they were still delicious.
I've been trying out different vegetable recipes in the hopes that the kids will enjoy some. Over the weekend we had carrot and zucchini bars. They were great, but the kids didn't like them. Veges were too visible would be my guess. I did have them eating almond meal muffins without being any the wiser, but I wouldn't count that as much of a victory. Deane has fallen in love with these cauliflower pancakes but the kids won't eat these either. I'd love to make more of these German chocolate fudge bites because they were yummy, but I have to get a new food processor first. Wonder if I can whizz them up enough that the boys won't notice the nuts and dates...? We tried these broccoli bites but weren't overly impressed. Even X, who loves broccoli, would only eat one. Mine possibly needed more egg and a little less cooking.
Well in any case, you can see I've been having fun experimenting in the kitchen, and intend to carry on trying out all manner of new recipes. It can be a bit hit-and-miss, but sometimes you find something really good, worth making again. I'm building up a bit of a collection ;-) Got any awesome recipes you want to share? Let me know! Right, that's me. I have a cardigan front to knit, then on to the sleeves (two at a time, I think). Enjoy your weekend!