12 km Zandvoort Run

Today was the Zandvoort Run in, of course, Zandvoort.  Last year I. and I did the 5 km Ladies Run and that was really as far as I could have run at that time.  Now, one year later, I ran the 12 km race in 1:23.  I’m really really happy about that.  I was kind of wondering how it would go since I haven’t trained a lot in the past 10 days.  Last Saturday I fell off my bike (don’t ask – it’s too embarrassing) and bruised my knees and my right thumb.  Luckily my knees were good again.  And most luckily, the weather was really good!  Here’s a photo at the start:

See those blue skies?  Fabulous.  See everyone wearing jackets?  Brrrrr cold.  See the flags at the top of the pit lane waving?  Wind!  The first part of this race is around the car racing track (A1 cars for example) which is really funny to do.  


Photo from Runners World site.
Photo from Runner's World site.

Then we head down to the beach and run 2.5 km along the beach, then back over the rolling dunes.  This was a tough run.  Only the last 1 km was relatively flat.  The beach is also flat of course, and we had the wind with us along the beach which was nice, but running on hard sand is something I’m not used to.  


Photo from Runners World site.
Photo from Runner's World site.



I. & G. said that this course was tougher than the 10 km Egmond run.  I missed that one due to a migraine.  I always thought that Egmond was the toughest race around.  It’s also over the beach and dunes in cold February.  If this one today was harder, then I’m even happier because I managed it ok.

Actually, I ran this race faster than the Dam to Dam race from last September and that route is almost completely flat.  Only a LITTLE bit faster, but still faster.  I’m certainly not a fast runner.  Today I ran an average of 8.7 km/hr.  

After the race we did what a lot of runners did – head to the fish sellers next to the beach and get a plate of kibling (batter dipped deep fried fish pieces).  So lekker!

Now, on to the Nike Hilversum City Run on 19 April!

All Kinds of Project Updates

My life is full of projects.  At home, at work.  There’s no escape.  All projects are coming along nicely, thanks very much.  Here are updates on the best ones:  knitting socks and the bathroom.

First, the MOST fun, socks knit from the Kool-Aid dyed sock blank.  I’m knitting “Brainless” from Yarnissima.  They are really quick and easy and will be perfect for this kind of yarn.  I’m mostly interested in how a stripy yarn blank knits up.  I’m knitting the socks 2 at a time on 2 circs, directly from the sock blank, unravelling it as I go.  Here are some photos:

The grape Kool-Aid is supposed to look purple, but as you can see in these photos (which are really true to life colors), it almost looks chocolate brown.  I am really stuck on the chocolate and pistachio ice-cream analogy.  You’ll also notice that I’m knitting them as right and left toes.  They fit my feet so perfectly.  I’m using exactly the same toe pattern as I used for my Pomatomus, but these are obviously toe-up instead of top down construction.  Just increase instead of decrease.  

I’m planning to join the “spina di pesce” KAL over on Ravelry in a week, so I want to get a lot done on these before then.  I have SO MUCH knitting I want to do!

Speaking of getting knitting done, Thursday night I finished knitting my “Sunrise Circle Jacket” (Ravelry link)!!  YIPPEE!  Now I just need to block and sew it up.  Unfortunately, our house is still kind of dusty and there’s probably more dust coming this next week, so I’m holding off the blocking until the house is really clean of construction dust.  Stay tuned!

Now, on to said dust problem… the bathroom remodel.  It’s going really well I have to say!  Here are some of the latest photos.  Yesterday they poured the cement floor, all the plumbing is in and it looks like the electrics are also done on the walls.  Wow!  We will actually have a light switch and electrical outlets in the bathroom!  What a treat. 🙂

Caution!  Wet floor!  We had to lock the cat up downstairs all night so he didn’t walk on it.

Ready for plastering!

This morning we spent cleaning in an effort to stay ahead of the dust and just to make the place feel livable.  I hope the worst of that is over.  We’ve seen the building plan and so far they are right on schedule  with no terrible surprises so far.  

Now, I can sit down and knit for a while and enjoy the rest of Saturday.  Tomorrow I have to run 12 km at the Zandvoort race and I’m trying not to stress about it.  It’s just running after all.  And I can only do what I can do.

Men at Work: Bathroom Rebuild Part 1

The demolition of our bathroom has begun! Finally. We moved into this house in August and had planned to have the bathroom replaced right away. Here it is March and it’s just getting started. The whole project will take 3 1/2 to 4 weeks. Yes, without a shower. We have a second toilet downstairs, but we no longer have a shower. THIS, my friends, is going to be annoying.

This morning we got up early and drove to the gym where we half heartedly did a little work out and then made our way to the showers. Of course we were there for the showers but tried to at least do something that justified being at a gym. This will be our every-other-day routine for the next few weeks. Or go to a friend’s house for a shower. “Hi! Long time no see! Can we use your shower?”

This is a serious rebuild we have going on and had to call in professionals. This is no DIY project. As you will see in the following photos, the room no longer looks like a bathroom at all. It looks like a cave. A scary cave.

What are we having done?
Well, everything OUT first of all. Walls back bare brick.
Plumbing moved all around (so we don’t have to shower next to the window – what a stupid design that is).
Electrics added.
A new window frame and window put in (the old one didn’t fit well and was rotten).
The door turned around to open into the hall (to give more space to a very small bathroom).
And the biggest job – knock out an old chimney and reinforce the ceiling so the house doesn’t fall down.
And then the easy part – plaster, tile, shower, toilet and fixtures.

It will be beautiful when it’s done.

Here is a before photo.  Notice the rusted radiator (that didn’t work) and the also non-working shower head.

The demolition begins:

Here’s the chimney, only partly taken out:

And a day later the chimney is gone and the new window is in.  The floor is also gone.

The house at this moment is a small disaster area.  There’s cardboard covering the entryway, stairs and landing upstairs.  There’s DUST EVERYWHERE.  You can’t keep up with it.  Saturday we will clean everything.  We hope that by Saturday all of the dusty work is done.

I had big plans to upgrade my blog software (to WordPress 2.7) and set up a new theme.  Uh-huh.  I think house cleaning will take all priority Saturday.  The blog will have to keep churning without an upgrade again this week.

Last night I was checking the ol’ blog and could not reach my site!  This happens far too often with my web host.  I sent an email to complain again.  The best thing about my host is the really personal service you get.  They always reply with a personal email from a real person with a name within minutes of you sending them one.  They have now moved my site to a different server (an upgrade to my account?).  Hopefully I’ll have far less down time.  If I just happen to notice down time, by chance, I can’t imagine how often it really is down for the world.  Shocking! 🙂

I’ll keep the bathroom project updated on the blog and post photos as things move along.  Maybe all the trips to the gym for showers will pay off and I’ll lose a little weight.  Wouldn’t that be a nice side benefit to all this hassle!

Apple of My iPhone Pouch


Announcing the first underdutchskies pattern download!  I finished my iPhone pouch and thought it would be a good idea to write up the instructions and offer them up to my readers.  Below you will find a link to the pdf file download.

I made the pouch using Noro Gimp, which is something more like cord than yarn.  It does not stretch.  It is apple red and shiny.  I used a small 14mm magnet as a closure, which is working really well.  Here are a couple more photos:

If you have any questions about the pattern just let me know.  I hope you like it, but please don’t sell it or sell items made from it.

Apple of My iPhone Pouch PDF download

Wool Magic

Today DB and I went in to Amsterdam.  He went for a hair cut and I went for the sun and fun.  When the sun is shining, there’s no place quite like Amsterdam.  It was buzzing with people and as of yesterday the terraces are again full of people sitting outside trying to make up for the long dark winter.  March is a wonderful month here.  Every day brings us so much more daylight!  I feel alive again!

Today I did something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while now.  I went to Waterlooplein, to the big flea market, and bought a used 100% wool Norwegian sweater from one of the market stalls.  It was only 10 euros for this man’s sized sweater.  It was hand knit (I can tell of course).  Here’s the before photo:

When I got home I threw it into the washing machine with an old pair of jeans.  I washed them on normal cycle in 90 degree C!!  Here’s the after photo:

Isn’t that amazing?  OK, it’s only amazing when you do it on purpose.  Otherwise it’s a f(*(*&) disaster.  Its now SUPER thick and heavy and child sized.  I kind of over did it actually.  I didn’t mean for it to felt THAT hard and become quite this small.  Ah well.  It’s only a 10 euro experiment.  What am I going to do with it?  Probably make a laptop cover out of it and possibly a couple of iPhone pouches with the sleeves.  If this goes well I might go back to the stall and buy a couple more sweaters.  They didn’t have a lot of sweaters, but that stall has been selling those sweaters for years so I imagine they will continue to do so.

We get all the afternoon sun in our living room window.  The cat is really loving it.  

Isn’t he cute?  He’s so old that he snores all the time now.  Here he looks angelic and sweet, but at 3am when his snoring wakes me up he’s not so cute.  Not at all.  I kick him and he stops for a while and we both go back to sleep.  Then he decides to lay on my legs AND snore.  Sigh.  Soon it will be warm enough that he doesn’t want to sleep on the bed.  This is definitely another big advantage to Spring.


We had a fire drill this morning at work and everyone had to evacuate. We emptied 10 floors in 7 minutes which is pretty impressive I think. Some of us went directly for food – logical. And some of us wanted to stay outside til the building was REALLY safe.

Dyeing to Meet You

Last night was dyeing night.  It was my first time dyeing yarn and man was it fun!  We were lucky enough to have G.’s great work space to use.  We all used Kool-Aid except for G. who used some other kind of dye.  Here are some photos first, then a little explanation.

My stuff:

Painting my KnitPicks sock blank with purple and green Kool-Aid:

Sock blank rolled up and ready for the microwave:

It was very hard to get the correct color in this photo, but it’s close.  This is 3 packs of orange and 3 packs of red for 100g yarn.  It’s ALMOST solid and much lovelier in person than in this photo:

Now, the others’:

What I learned from Kool-Aid dyeing….

It takes a lot more Kool-Aid to dye yarn than you think it will.  For my 100g of sock weight yarn I used 6 packs of the stuff.  The color is rich and lovely though!  

It’s dead easy to do!  This is something that is safe and easy to do in your own kitchen and get really good results.  I should have tried this a long time ago.

It’s magic!  It’s really cool to put white wool into a tub of colored water and then in just a few minutes the water is clear and the wool is colored.  What fun!

What we did – make your Kool-Aid as concentrated as you want – if it’s not as colorful as you want the first time you soak it, then just add more Kool-Aid and do it again!  Soak your yarn with water for 30 minutes before you do any dyeing – soak in the colored dye until the water runs clear-ish.  Pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, until it’s HOT – take out and let sit until cool – put it back in the nuker and do it again – when it cools enough to handle rinse it in water the same temperature so it doesn’t felt.  You’re done!  Gently squeeze out the water and lay to dry.

Go out there Kool-Aid kids and dye yarn!  It’s all this toxic stuff is good for!

Presents From Far Away Places

Saturday night I went to a little dinner party to welcome back a friend (and ex-boss) who is just back from 4 months (yes, you read it right) in South Africa.  This woman takes the most amazing photos of animals and scenery.  It was great to see her, and everyone there.

What I want to show you is what she brought me… mohair from South Africa!

This is from Adele’s, a small company that employees women to spin and dye the yarn in a small work place.  Their web site is here.  This kit came with a shawl pattern.  This one will be really special….

The Best Chocolate Milk EVER

What is the best remedy for an aching body and tired mind?  A perfect cup of chocolate milk.  How do you make a perfect cup of chocolate milk?  Like this….

First, you have to get your hands on some choc-o-lait cubes like these:

We bought these in Bruges last weekend.  Their web site is www.choc-o-lait.com and even though I’ve searched their web site a bit, it’s not easy to figure out where you can actually buy this stuff in the world.  I have bought it before from a little deli on the Utrechtsestraat in Amsterdam, but that’s the only place outside of Belgium I’ve seen it.  It is, by far, the best way to make hot chocolate EVER.

First, heat up a mug of milk in the microwave til it’s good and hot.  Here’s the before photo:

When the milk is hot, stick the choc-o-lait and it swirl until all the chocolate is melted and mixed in with the milk.  Keep the stick and use to stir occasionally to keep things mixed up well.  Photos of work in progress:

OR, you can just mix it til the chocolate cube is half way gone and pop the rest in your mouth!  Also delicious and satisfying.  Yum Yum.

I really needed this last night.  After running the 10 km I went to the gardening shop in Velserbroek and bought 2 rose bushes (1 tree rose and 1 climber) and 1 camellia bush.  When I got home I dug out a small olive tree and planted the tree rose in its place and dug out a big wisteria (with HUGE roots) and planted the climbing rose in its place.  I also pulled out 3 dead little bushes and planted the camellia there.  I felt pretty good!  Tired, but felt it was a job very well done.  I sat down on the couch around 4pm.  At 5pm DB got home from work and said “let’s go grocery shopping!”.  I tried to get up.  Then I tried again.  DB had to put my shoes on my feet.  I haven’t felt that stiff and sore for ages!  

There’s still more gardening to do but because I’m still stiff and sore this morning we’re putting it off until next weekend.  We still need to plant the fig tree and the other camellia plus just clean things up a bit.  This is just the FRONT of the house.  You don’t want to know about the back.  We’re hiring help for that!

If you can’t manage to find this particular chocolate for your luxury drink, try Kahlua or some other fancy expensive chocolate to eat or melt.  Go on.  You’re worth it.

Running into Spring

I just got back from a very successful run.  My goal was to run 10 km and I made it!  Wow that feels good to say!  I went a new route today and for part of it I really wasn’t sure where the heck I was.  It is a lovely Spring day and actually later today I plan to go buy a couple of rose bushes to plant in the front of our house.  Yes, I have the day off work.  It’s one of my regular Friday’s off.  

You know when you run somewhere unfamiliar it’s always a risk that you end up going farther then you intend.  Today’s route, however, worked out to be EXACTLY 10 km!  Imagine that luck.  I will certainly use this same route often in the coming months.  

At the end of the run I was back on familiar ground.  I stopped for just a few seconds to take this photo to prove that Spring really is on the way.  Yippee!