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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grayson Highlands State Park

This past weekend's camping trip was absolutely amazing. We drove 3.5 miles through curvy mountain roads and found ourselves in Mouth of Wilson, VA- home to Grayson Highlands State Park. We paid our small overnight parking fee, threw our heavy packs on our backs, buckled Eisley to her tiny pack, and headed out on the trail.

It wasn't even a quarter of a mile in that I started to sense ponies (you may say it was the smell of poo but I think it was the sweet smell of grass and beauty).  My heart started to beat a little faster, and as we rounded a corner... BAM! I saw PONIES!!!!!!!!!!  I tried to stay calm and collected, but inside I looked like this:
No, this isn't me, although I do sometimes wear my hair like that.

We crossed the first fenced thresh hold and the ponies immediately came up to me, smelling my clothes and checking things out. Probably looking for a snack. After a quick hello, we continued our trek, because he had to hike in 2 more miles and set up camp before dark.  (And no, hiking 2 miles with a pack on your back is NOT the same thing as walking 2 miles around your neighborhood. It is much more difficult, I promise.)

So we finally reached camp and got all set up.  Ross fetched us water from the nearby stream and ran it through our purifier so we could have cool, fresh mountain spring water (not just the kind that is advertised that way and comes from a plastic bottle). We cooked miso soup and thai noodles for dinner, drank wine from our giant juice box, and played cards in our tent (the game was War... Ross won... he also cheated).

At 7am we woke up to this sunrise:

I was still a little tired. And cold. And wearing Ross' jacket and boots.

No make-up/first thing in the morning/but we still love each other picture!

After a quick breakfast we realized that the storm clouds were rolling in FAST, so we scurried to pack up our tent before the impending doom of a rain storm.  Once we were back on the trail it was time for my favorite part of the trip... pony searching.

We hiked out via the Appalachian Trail and met up with ponies along the way. Every time we came across a new cluster of ponies I saw fireworks in my head:
Some people may say that seeing fireworks is a sign that something is wrong in my brain...
I claim it was just pony excitement.

I made friends with two baby ponies who I was convinced loved me back. They followed me around and kept nuzzling into my stomach. I fell in love.... hard and fast.
True love.
The whole way home I begged Ross to let me have a pony one day... trying for the logic that ponies are just like giant dogs and wouldn't be THAT much trouble. They could even help with our garden!! He didn't buy it. I did make him promise me a "maybe." Who wouldn't want to wake up to this every day:

So a lot more happened on the trip, but I feel like pictures tell the story better than my silly words. Here is a quick glimpse:
Heading off on the trail

Ponies ahead!


Sweet hair-do!

My favorites

"Take me home with you, PLEASE!"

Eisley was OK with the ponies until I started giving them too much attention.

A must-hiking spot for everyone!

The end!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Big Packs of Stuff

Last night we spent a couple of  hours cramming all of this:
Minus the dog of course...

Into these:
Ooooo! Fancy new packs!

Why you ask? Because we are going backpacking of course! Even Eisley has a tiny pack for her food! (Which by the way she HATES wearing and when we put it on her she REFUSES to move. She just stands and looks at you like you are making her stand in a thunderstorm, while stabbing her with a million needles, and eating her favorite foods and not sharing with her all at the same time. It's a pretty pathetic face.)

Anyway, we are heading out from work a bit early today (woot woot!) and heading up to Virginia to camp in Grayson Highlands Park. There are wild ponies there... Guess who is excited about that?!?!? 

This is the food we will be eating..... dehydrogenated noodles, packaged salmon, trail mix, and a giant "juice box" of wine. Yeeeehawww!
Be jealous.

As our packs already weigh waaaay to much and my knee is still hurt from my epic bike crash, we decided to avoid the extra weight of Ross' professional camera and we will just be using our crappy cameras on our phones. Hopefully I will have some good pictures for you Sunday evening/Monday!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Squirrels vs The Gang

As you all know, I love animals. A lot. Obsessively. I love their cute furry faces and their sometimes funky smells. I even want my own farm one day!

But... there is one type of animal that is now on my bad list. Squirrels.

When you think of squirrels you may smile at their little ears, laugh at their bushy tails, or love to watch them scurry around yards. However, when I think of squirrels, I see this:

The squirrels in my yard have DESTROYED one of my favorite plants. It is quite sad.

You may remember Juniper and The Fuzzy Navels... a succulent family that was given to us from Ross' mom.
I loved these little guys and nick-named them "The Gang" for short.  After some love and sunshine, they outgrew their little green pot and had a home in this:

Every morning I take The Gang outside to sit in the sunshine, and every night I bring them in for "bed." I try to limit their exposure to potential rain fall and predators. Like evil squirrels.

Well, this weekend, I left The Gang outside while Ross and I went for a quick errand. I have notice some slight nibbles on the leaves of The Gang and a couple of my other plants in the past, but thought it was a minor issue. However, I came home, to this:

The squirrels had dug around inside the pot, throwing my little plants around and destroying their roots. I said a few bad words (sorry Mom!) and cleaned up the mess, taking care of the few little plants that remained.

A couple of days later, Ross and I went for another quick trip out... you would think I would have learned my lesson, because apparently those squirrels are SMART! They wait until we leave the house, and then... ATTACK!!! We came home to an empty pot, with dirt all over the porch. I cried. (And didn't take a picture because it was too sad.)

As I was cleaning up the mess, I found one little plant that survived the attack. Barely, but he did survive. Despite missing half of his leaves and having significant bruising from the ordeal, I popped him into his own little pot and hopefully we will make it.
And then there was one.

The lesson I learned? Squirrels are evil. And my plants can now only have supervised sunshine time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy! Anniversary!

1 year ago today we were leaving NC as Mr. and Mrs., headed back to Portland before our honeymoon in Hawaii.  This past weekend we spent a wonderful 3 days relaxing and having fun, celebrating our wonderful past year. Here is a quick run down of the weekend's adventures.

We had plans of going backpacking all weekend, but our trip was rained out due to the hurricane creeping its way up the eastern part of the country, so instead Friday night we walked around REI and shopped for our future camping trip (hopefully will be this weekend), followed by sushi at our favorite Chapel Hill spot. Here is Ross, loving the fact that I was taking his picture.

Shortly after this I stuck my head in the statue's mouth and asked Ross to take a picture, but it came out blurry... probably because he was so embarrassed by my behavior that he took it too fast.

Saturday morning we went to Ross' grandparents' lake house at Hyco Lake. Lots of fun hanging out with Ross' family and soaking up the sun.

Saturday night was filled with homemade pizza, cheap champagne, and a carrot cake cupcake, reminiscent of our wedding day (the carrot cake part, not the pizza or cheap champagne).

Sunday morning we got up for a mega work out (to burn off previous-stated calories). Ross has me training for a 36 mile charity bike ride in Harrisonburg, VA that is in 2 weeks (i.e. lots of hills and lots of miles to ride).  8 miles into Saturday's training ride, I tried to mimic Ross and cross my hands over my handle bars. Do you know what happens when you try to be as cool as Ross? You fail. I went ker-SPLAT on the pavement and fumbled away with two skinned hands, a bruised hip, and a swollen knee. But, being the beast I am, I decided to slowly pedal home the 8 miles, sniffling and bleeding the whole way.

After a lot of neosporin and several bandaids, we headed to Raleigh to see the AKC dog show and walk around the flea market. We then had milkshakes and french fries (that sounds healthy right?) before heading back to Chapel Hill to hang out at our favorite restaurant patio spot for a cold beverage.
I really want this patio... with the cow statue.

Eisley joined us.

Monday (THE anniversary day!) I woke up to homemade hash-browns, scrambled eggs, coffee, and OJ. It turns out my delicious anniversary breakfast was a bribe to get me back on the bicycle for the training ride I didn't accomplish the day before (I had an excuse, though right?!). I wrapped my hands in 4 layers of gauze, added gloves, took 2 ibuprofen for the pain in my knee and we pedaled out. Ross' dad went with us, and we completed 31 miles. I was proud of myself, especially with my injuries!

The rest of Monday was spent cleaning and doing laundry (not very fun), before we went to Lowe's and "adopted" 3 dying orchid plants off of the clearance rack. With original price tags ranging from $19 - $30 we got 3 orchid plants on the major cheap, one for $3, one for $5, and one for $8.  They are now scattered around our kitchen waiting for some TLC.

That's a wrap on the weekend! Happy Anniversary to us!