Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Short Goodbye

As this blog has mostly been about our two-year journey to Portland and back, I decided that as we close that chapter and dive into a new one, a new blog would be appropriate.  As we clean up our old apartment and (hopefully forever) say good-bye to landlords, I will be finalizing Cross Country Kate and stacking it away in the archives. I will of course keep it live and may occasionally dust off an old post as reference for a new project, but I hope you will regularly join us at our new blog as we start our new journey.

Introducing Backseat Boone:

Thursday, October 4, 2012


You may remember past posts around this time of year talking about Cyclocross season and the joys it brings to the Bowden household.  Fall weather brings rain and mud, cooler temperature and seasonal beer and with all of those things comes cyclocross- my favorite type of cycling.

After 2 years of training in true cyclocross style in Portland (see a video here to know what it is all about, Ross is excelling in the Cross season here, and has placed 3rd place in the Pro category the past two weeks, winning $20 each time. Come on Pudding!! Bring home the money!    

As I have loved watching Ross race cyclocross over the past 3 years, I decided that this year I would throw my hat (helmet?) in the game, and would compete in my first race.  Unfortunately I picked a day where is was pouring rain and the course was a complete mud pit. Not the ideal first cyclocross race experience.

Most races are divided into categories, Cat 4/5 being the beginners (ME!) and Cat Pro/1/2 being the experts (Ross) and Cat 3/4  being in the middle. Unfortunately for me, the women’s category at this specific race was an “open” race which meant all women raced together.  And to make things just a bit more interesting, they allowed the Juniors (ages 13 – 17) to race with us too.

Now you may think that Juniors racers wouldn't be a threat. Ummm you thought wrong. Junior racers are tiny devils on wheels. They have absolutely no fear of wrecking (or wrecking others)… it is as if they are made from rubber and just bounce back up when they fall. I learned the hard way (twice) that when I hit the ground in races, I do not quickly bounce back up.

So despite racing in a pack with Pro women, being nearly trampled by a pack of Junior riders, getting lapped by a 12 year old on a cruiser bike, and crashing twice, I still got third place…. third from last that is (that is 23rd out of 25 riders).

A few hours later Ross totally kicked butt and clinched third place (for real third place, not pretend third place). Hey, at least there was some consistency in 3’s.  However, Ross swears  he was proud of my performance and thinks I did great, especially considering I had never ridden in the mud before.

Days later, now that I have had time to reflect and heal from my bruised knee and bruised ego, I have decided that yes, I will race again. But maybe next time I will wear spikes on my shoes and kick at any juniors who try to pass me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I have figured out how to use my sewing machine. (Insert squeal of excitement here!)

This past weekend we had the pleasure of hosting one of Ross’ college roommates and his girlfriend for the night. While all we could offer them was a few random snacks from our pantry and a place to sleep on our Ikea futon (hey, it was a last minute thing!), we had a great time and enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with them. AND… Kelly (the girlfriend, not the college roommate) knew how to fix my sewing machine!

After a few failed attempts at sewing a row, Kelly realized it wasn’t just me… the sewing machine was being a little devil. So, she took it apart (the correct way) and put it back together (also the correct way) and diagnosed a problem with the bobbin.  What does that mean? I don’t know… but she showed me how to remedy the situation.  So… I spent Sunday afternoon sewing t-shirt material to quilt squares. I felt like such an old woman, getting pure joy from sitting in front of my machine, but I love the feeling of making something by “hand” that I could have paid a lot more money for in a store.

Hopefully by the end of the week I will have my full stack of squares ready to go and I will be able to start sewing them together for my quilt top!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fuzzy Bugs, Armpit Pain, and a Happy Ending

Friday afternoon I was sitting out on our front stoop waiting on Ross to get home from work. It was a super sunny, yet cool afternoon- perfect Fall weather.  As I was sitting and waiting, I noticed a little critter crawling towards me. He was about 2inches long, shaped like a slug, yet fuzzy… hairy even…. like a little mammal.  I watched as he scooted across the patio, moving quite fast for a little guy of his size.
And of course I took his picture!
 Being the nature lover I am, I was afraid if he stayed on our front step he would get trampled by Eisley’s paws or squished by a bicycle tire, so I scooped him up onto a dried leaf and set him in the pine straw next to our porch- that way I could still watch him. 

After a few minutes curiosity got the better of me, and I called Ross to tell him about my little find and to see if he perhaps knew of any furry bugs. A wooly worm was his suggestion.  Now I know wooly worms (I LOVE them) and this was NOT a wooly worm. Ross promised he would be home in a couple of minutes and we would investigate together.

So, I sat and watched as my little “friend” quickly made his way up onto the porch again, and this time I just let him crawl around next to me.  But, I didn’t get too close… he looked like a Little Monster. And so, I named him that.
Isn't he a cutie?!
 When Ross got home I showed him my new buddy and he had the same reaction as me…. “WHAT IS THAT?!” We did what all modern day Americans do when they have a question (ran to our computers) and started Googling for our answer.  After searching “furry slug,” “hairy bugs,” “slug with hair,” and “mammal-looking bug” I found it.  A Woolly Slug also known as a Puss Caterpillar.  I was so excited to have a name for my little critter I decided to do some research on him.

“The Puss caterpillar, or Woolly Slug, is the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States. Its poison is hidden in hollow spines among its hairs.”

At that point I started to get concerned.

The toxin usually, but not always, produces an immediate onset of excruciating, unrelenting pain, radiating to the lymph nodes in the armpit or groin, and then to the chest.”

At this point, I decided Little Monster and I couldn’t be friends any more.  Friends don’t cause friends excruciating pain.

So with adult supervision (Ross stood just close enough that he could watch and not touch), I again scooped up Little Monster with a leaf (this time much more carefully as not to touch him), and carried him over to the patio of the vacant apartment next to ours.  I decided that if he was determined to live on a patio, it had better not be mine.

So I walked away unharmed and I am sure Little Monster is a few feet away living happily ever after.  Morale of the story? Don’t touch really cute fuzzy bugs… you never know when it will cause pain in your armpit.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sewing Machine Monster

I have made some good progress on my quilt and I now have a hefty little stack of squares waiting to be sewn together. I bought a sewing machine a couple of months ago, took a class on how to use it, and figured it should be a breeze to pop a few squares together and call it a productive afternoon.

Alas, I do not remember how to use my sewing machine. I made some great straight lines with holes punched in my fabric, but the thread wasn’t going through the holes (yes I threaded the needle, that’s not the problem). 

I am convinced my sewing machine is a living being and its needle is really little teeth tearing at my fabric and crushing all of my hopes and dreams. Evil monster.

I decided that if I could figure out how the machine works, I could make it work.  Nope. Taking it apart made me more confused. And I am pretty sure I didn’t put it back together right.

I tried cussing at the machine. Outloud. 

And in case you were wondering… that didn’t help either. Although it did make Eisley hide under the bed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Love to Ride my BICYCLE!

This past weekend Ross and I ventured up to Harrisonburg, VA for a weekend of bicycles. The event was Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo, a 100+ mile bike ride in the mountains. Proceeds from the weekend’s events went towards prostate cancer awareness and the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and the event was put on by big time pro mountain biker Jeremiah Bishop.

Friday night’s festivities included dinner, drinks, and relaxing at a benefit gala on a roof top patio in downtown Harrisonburg. We had delicious fruit, salad, bread, pasta, and cheesecake along with ice cold beer…. It was an all-out carb-overload in preparation for Saturday’s big event.  It was a very sophisticated and formal occasion… as you can see.

Oh wait…. Did I say formal? These are bike people… there is no such thing as formal!
Is that Ross or Harry Potter?
Saturday morning we wore up to cool temperatures and just a little bit of sunshine peeking through the mountain clouds. We “suited up” and got to the start line.
Photo courtesy of Performance Bike's Facebook Page

This was my first 30+ mile bike ride, my first group ride, my first ride without Ross, and my first road ride in the mountains all piled into one terrifying event.  My ride was a 33 mile course that would wind through the rolling hills of the valley- hence the name, Valley View Ride.  Ross’ big event was a 100+ mile Gran Fondo that took him up 10-mile gravel mountain climbs, curvy roads, and treacherous terrain.

I started out my ride feeling a little confident and a lot nervous, but I was determined to be hardcore and complete the ride without Ross holding my hand. As we all pedaled out of the parking lot I kept trying to look cool and repeating over and over again in my head “you can do it, you can do it.”

As we started out of town and hit the first hill my thoughts changed to “just finish, just finish.”

By the time I was 10 miles in and my knee was hurting and the hills just WOULD. NOT. STOP. my thoughts turned to “just don’t die, just don’t die.”

After a while I made friends with a nice mid-30’s dude named TJ and we rode together for the rest of the route. We both decided that if we had someone to complain to, it would make the ride better.

About 30 miles in, TJ and I realized we hadn’t seen other riders in miles… no one in front of us and no one behind us. That’s when we decided we were in last place. Surprisingly, coming to that conclusion between the two of us, made us feel a lot better about the whole situation. Heck, if we were in last place, at least we would be last together. We vowed to cheer for each other as we crossed the finish line, even if no one else did.

Long story short, I didn’t die although I felt like I was going to. When we crossed the finish line, lots of people cheered, we were handed water bottles, cold towels, and a fancy medal. We thought it was just a nice courtesy, despite being in last place. Then we looked around and realized no one was really there. Which meant, we were SO slow that everyone had finished and left. What losers we were!

A bit later we realized that alas, we were NOT last, but rather we finished in 11th place (out of 50). We thought we were so far BEHIND that we didn’t see anyone, when really, we were so far AHEAD! YAY!  I ended up finishing 1st in my age group out of all men and women. Woot Woot! 
I didn't get to stand on the podium during the award ceremony, but  I decided
I wanted a picture up there anyway. 
While I waited on Ross to finish riding in the mountains, I sat and ate cookies and admired my medal. It seemed like a good idea to me.
Oooo! Ahhhh!

Ross came in 6th overall (he is SO hardcore!) and finished second in his age group for the King of the Mountain competition (a race to see who can ride to the top of the mountains the fastest… in the middle of the 100+ mile ride). 
Ross actually did get to stand on the podium. Isn't he special?!
There was a pro photographer out on the course, and once the pictures are up, I will post a link to our pictures!

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's about time...

... for a NEW PROJECT!!!!  Between work craziness and taking care of the fur kids and the house, I haven't had time to start a new project. Not to mention, I don't have the outdoor space or garage that I have had previously as a work space.  But, despite all of these obstacles, I have been hankering for a new project... you guys know me- I LIVE for new projects!  (Wait... did I just say "hankering?")

So, I have been brainstorming about a project I could do in stages, that wouldn't take up a lot of time in between stages, and that didn't require paint/chemicals/outside space/etc.  It was about the same time that I started cleaning out my closet and drawers and realized I had a TON of t-shirts, that while I didn't necessarily wear them (ever!) I couldn't bear the thought of getting rid of them. There are special memories in those t-shirts, folks!  So slam! Bam! Wheels started turning, and a t-shirt quilt came to mind. Here goes nothing!

Step 1: Compile the t-shirts.  Now that, my friends, is the easy step. I decided to make the quilt a "College Years" quilt, encompassing all of my favorite memories in Black and Gold. And since Ross, of course, went to Appalachian too, and since that is where we met and fell sooooo in love (awww!), I got to throw some of his favorites in the mix too.
Check out that pile of t-shirts!!

Step 2:  Trim the extras.  Once I had my pile of shirts, I had to cut off all of the sleeves and extra fabric so that the decorated portion of the shirt can lay flat.

Step 3: Add the interfacing.  After I had the shirts trimmed down, I ironed on some non-woven interfacing onto the back of the design. This stabilizes the fabric and  helps make the t-shirts less stretchy and unpredictable.

Step 4: Make a quilt square. Once I had the interfacing ironed on, it was time to cut down the t-shirt to a quilt square.

And... that's where I am now! I have about half of my shirts trimmed down, ironed, and made into squares. I still have a lot more to go, but it is definitely a work in progress.