Thursday, August 27, 2015

Laylow Shawl KAL

I say this all the time and here I go announcing it yet again: I love meeting up with my knitting circle every Sunday afternoon. I look forward to it all week! This knitting group started out as simply a knit along for a shawl. The KAL was open to everyone, but for those that are local to Loop, they were welcome to meet at the yarn shop every Sunday afternoon to knit with other yarn enthusiasts. For our first KAL I made the Melodia shawl. Most people wanted to stick with the flat shawl/scarf patterns, so the Laylow pattern was selected for the second round of the KAL.
The shawl is designed to use two different colors of yarn: a large main color, and a small border of another color. Because the border section is narrow, it doesn't require much yardage. I wanted to use leftover yarn from a previous project in attempt to clear out my tub of yarn. Because I had plenty to work with, I selected the remainder of the green yarn from the Three Color Cowl I knit earlier in the year. I went through my stashed yarn to find a complementary color for the main body portion of the shawl. Unfortunately, most of my stashed skeins are sport weight, and since this patterns calls for fingering, I didn't have what I needed on hand. I wanted to pair this dull green with a light brown neutral, and Loop had exactly what I was looking for. I went with Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace- Lauren thinks that it is more gray, I think it's brown. Whatever the color though, both of us chose this colorway for the body of ours shawls, and it works well with my dull green and her rich purple.
This was my first time knitting dropped stitches, and I was really hesitant to do so at first. I wasn't sure I liked the look of them, thinking the loose stitches just weren't my style. I went ahead and included them like the pattern requested, and I'm happy I did. The dropped stitches add depth and texture to the otherwise simple garter shawl. It's still not my most favorite look ever, but I definitely don't hate it either.

I tend to like larger scarves/cowls/shawls, and I didn't want small yet significant amounts of yarn leftover. So, I decided to extend the pattern and added three extra 6-row repeats to the body. Since I knit the body larger, I also increased the border section by 7 rows. Doing this, I was able to use up the majority of both colors instead of wasting significant yardage. I also love how much larger and fuller my finished shawl is. I can easily wear my shawl wrapped around my neck like a scarf- my favorite look! Wearing my shawl this way, it's a lot fuller in the front which I think I'll really appreciate in the winter.

The pattern suggested and gave instructions for the lace bind off. I didn't question the pattern and went ahead using this method, although I wish I hadn't. At least for me, this bind off isn't stretchy at all so I had a difficult time blocking my shawl. The bind off has no give whereas the rest of the garter shawl does.

Loop has taken a break from hosting KALs, but Lauren and I keep coming back every Sunday to knit and enjoy company with our established knitting circle. They've recently received shipments of Knitterly Things Vesper Sock yarn, and many people in the group have taken a huge interest in the self-striping colorways. I'll be working on my socks (knit two-at-a-time, magic looped) in the Crossroads colorway for awhile!
Yarn used: Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace, and Dream in Color Jilly in Bitter
Needles: Size 3 Knitter's Pride Cubics circular needles with a 40 inch cable

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Striped Plantain Tee

A few years ago I bought a bunch of cute knit fabric thinking that I wouldn't have any issues sewing with it. I felt pretty confident sewing with quilting cottons, and I didn't think knits would be much different. However, after my first attempt at sewing with knits without a serger, I gave up. My pretty knit fabric sat in a large tub, waiting for me to work up the courage to try again.

I recently started to love wearing knits again. I used to think they clung too much to my body, and I refused to wear garments made out of knits, unless they were super loose. I no longer have that issue, and want to wear comfortable knits all the time. So, I decided to give sewing with knits another try.

My first knit fabric attempt was a Scout Tee which is okay. I was just impressed that I managed to make something wearable. I knew I needed to figure out a better way to hem knits after reassessing that first top. I sewed the hems of that tee with a simple zig-zag stitch, but overall, it just looked funny to me.

I had been on the mission to find the perfect pattern to sew simple knit tees, and I honestly thought the Scout Tee was going to be the winner. I love the pattern, but it's not drafted specifically for knits, so I continued my search. The Plantain Tee was offered as a free pattern, so I figured I had nothing to lose trying it. To my surprise, as of now, I've found that perfect knit tee pattern I had been searching for. The pattern is written for knits, and my top fits perfectly.
This time, I used a regular straight stitch for all of my hems and I love the way that turned out. The hems turned out smooth without any waves or irregularities. I folded the fabric up at 1/2 inch and sewed as close to the raw edge as possible. I also attached the neck binding with a straight stitch, but zig-zag stitched that seam shut. Doing this made it much easier to top stitch the seam down, and also gives makes it look more finished. Like all of my newly sewn tops and dresses, I included a tag with the garment's size stamped on, made from twill tape. I sewed the side and shoulder seams also with a straight stitch, but left them unfinished since fraying won't be an issue with knits.

The pattern offers both long and short sleeve versions. I opted for the later, but I'll definitely be sewing several long sleeved tops this fall/winter. I didn't need to make any changes to the pattern pieces or instructions because I love the way this tee fits as written! It's not super flow-y (like how my Scout Tee turned out), but gradually flares out below the waist. 

Even though I'm trying to work up the courage to go through my entire closest and purge clothing, I'm already thinking about what I want to sew for myself to add to my fall/winter wardrobe. Like I said before, more Plantain Tees (with elbow patches!) will definitely be included!
Pattern: Plantain Tee
Size: 38

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What Running Looks like Now

After finishing the San Francisco Marathon at the end of July, I planned to take a week off from running entirely. Well as it goes, one week turned into two, and then I made excuses to skip my next long run. From personal experience, I knew that I needed to start running again, if only a few miles at a time, otherwise I'd stop running completely, and with several races coming up that really wouldn't be a good idea.

I flew back to Philadelphia the first week of August, expecting to easily fall back into my normal daily routine. However, that transition was so hard and didn't go as planned. I needed more than a few days to readjust to the time change, and my body was out of whack from the huge coffee and no water the day of travel. But knowing how I am, I had to make myself run in order to get back into the habit of doing it. I didn't want to lose all of the endurance and speed I built, and have to start all over from square one again.

Being gone for almost a month, I quickly forgot how humid and muggy the East Coast is in the summer. I much prefer running outside, but the weather conditions were doing more harm than good to me. Sure I was getting all of my midweek runs in, but my legs felt like they were being shredded. My muscles were constantly sore and tired, so I started going to the gym instead. For the past two weeks I've been doing almost all of my midweek runs on the indoor track where there is good airflow and air conditioning. Once the midweek miles start picking up though, I'm going to have to move over to the treadmill because running dozens of circles around a 1/12 mile track makes me pretty dizzy. Thankfully though, the weather should be better towards the middle of September. I'm really looking forward to not having to wake up at the crack of dawn when I want to run outside.

While I've been struggling to get back into the routine of running five times a week, I'm still really motivated. Having races on my calendar that I've signed up for months ago motivates me to get to the gym. I've run a half marathon before without any proper training, and it sucks! I never want to be in that much pain during and after a race again, so I use that horrible experience as inspiration to adhere to a training schedule.

I love participating in races, who doesn't? The race swag and expo are so fun, and I wear the novelty tech tees all the time. But this year, I decided to do less races and instead focus more on the few that I do sign up for. I've been concentrating on training for specific races rather than just running random half marathons because I can. So far this year, I've run a 10 mile trail race and a full  marathon. At the end of October I'll be running the Rock 'n Roll Philadelphia half marathon (on Halloween!), and the Philadelphia full marathon at the end of November. Although I'm missing out on adding more shirts to my growing collection of race tees, I've never been more excited for all the fanfare for one specific race at a time. And just like always, I've set time goals for these next two races that I hope to achieve!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Floral Tiny Pocket Tank

Perhaps you recognize this fabric from my graduation dress? Well, I just had to use it again since it's the perfect weight fabric for this muggy, humid Philadelphia Summer. That, and my graduation dress no longer fits. So it seemed like a good idea to make a second garment with the same exact, leftover fabric.
I bought this pattern over three years ago, but never actually finished a single top. I've been trying (slowly but surely) to work my way through my fabric stash. I had just enough of this floral print left to squeak out one of these tanks. I didn't have enough fabric left for the neck or arm hole bindings, but found some leftover gray linen instead. The sturdiness of the linen worked better anyway.
This was a fairly simple pattern, and I didn't encounter any real problems. The only fit adjustment I made was cutting about an inch off from the bottom to take into account my short torso. Placing the pocket on straight definitely took effort, but I like that little added detail so it was worth the struggle. I haven't sewn bust darts in so long that I had to look up how to do this technique. I also decided to use French seams throughout the top for a more finished look. Otherwise, this tank was a quick sew. It took me about a week to finish with a lot of starting and stopping in between.
Pattern: Grainline Studio's Tiny Pocket Tank
Size: 4

Friday, August 21, 2015

San Francisco Marathon: Part II

Yesterday I talked all about our pre-race fun, including my favorite expo purchases and delicious dinner! Today I'm getting to the really good stuff- the actual race!

Since Lauren and I did all of the training together and we naturally run at very similar paces, we decided to run the entire marathon together. We had a big time goal (under 4 hours and 30 minutes), so we knew that we needed to run strong the entire 26.2 miles. From our past experiences, we decided that we weren't going to look at our pace but rather run entirely on feel alone. Obsessing on pace only makes us stressed and can be very discouraging if we fall behind. We did all of our training using 10:1 run:walk intervals, so we stuck to this for the marathon as well.

Miles 0-4: Embarcadero 
- We took off much faster than originally planned, trying to weave in and out of people.
- I was so in awe that I was actually embarking on this race that I didn't really look at my surroundings. I remember running by a few piers, but I was mostly reminding myself to keep moving and put one foot in front of the other. It sounds silly, but I was in shock that I was doing this.

Miles 4-5.5: Presidio Part I
- We were still weaving in and out of people, so we unfortunately missed a lot of good photo opportunities.
- We encountered the first big hill of the race. Expecting it to be a pretty hilly course, we decided to continue running up the hills, but at an easier pace. I was afraid that if we chose to walk the hills, we would be doing a lot of walking which would put our time goal way out of reach.
- This area was really foggy so it was hard to see stuff in the distance. But what was viewable, was stunning! I was able to spot the Golden Gate Bridge which was really motivating because I knew that was our next big landmark. 

Miles 5.5-9.5: Golden Gate Bridge
-  Prior to the race I was warned that the bridge should be thought of as a hill with the center of the bridge as the apex, even though it looks flat. Knowing this, I didn't push myself in an effort to save my legs.
- The race runs from the SF side to the Sausalito side of the bridge, and then turns back around to spit you out where you started. The turn around point (mile 7.5) marked the first aid station with fuel. I grabbed a pack of black cherry Gu Chomps and ate all of them between miles 7.5-11. Sidenote: I loved how these tasted and will be buying them as soon as I need more running fuel.
- As Lauren and I were heading back into SF, we crossed paths with Marissa, Heather, and Leti who were working their way up to the turn around point. This was the only time we saw them throughout the entire race, but they snapped some good photos of Lauren and me.
- I was surprised at how moist and foggy the air was on the bridge. If I hadn't known better, I would've thought that it recently rained.
- Although it was exciting and a once in a lifetime experience running across the GG Bridge, as a middle of the pack runner, it was tricky navigating my way through the herds of people. There were only two car lanes open to the runners across the bridge, one car lane for each running direction separated by cones. Because the path was so narrow, we ended up running on the opposite side, hugging the cones the majority of the time. 

Miles 9.5-12.5:
- We finished running through the scenic areas of SF's coast. One moment we were running along the water, and the next we were on the street. I definitely preferred the former of the two. 
- Many people wore their race shirts during the run which contains an image of the course on the back. I started realizing that because I'm vaguely familiar with the SF area, I could easily figure out where I was on the map. It was oddly very motivating to be able to see how much I had already run and how much more I had to go. Whenever I started feeling like I wanted to be done, I would look for a race shirt to check my progress. I think all race shirts should have the course on the back!

Miles 12.5-19: Golden Gate Park
Probably the most serene, yet boring parts of the entire race. If we had been in GG Park for half that distance, I would've enjoyed it a lot more.
- The first half marathon finished here, and the second half marathon started. It was a little disheartening to see the big finish line knowing that I still had over 13 more miles to run.
- We ran into Dan (SacFit running buddy) and talked/ran with him for a few minutes. I love seeing people I know!
- I saw my parents right before exiting the park. I didn't know exactly where I would be seeing them, so it was a great surprise to see familiar faces.

Miles 19-21: Haight St.
- I was expecting a lot of fanfare and excitement here, but it was just another ordinary street to me.
- Somehow I missed the aid station with fuel, but I had plenty with me so that wasn't a big deal.
- By this time I was getting tired and zoned out for awhile. I turned my brain off and let my legs just carry me.

Miles 21-23.5:
- The hardest part of the race for me, mentally. I never hit the wall (thank goodness!), but I really just wanted to be done at this point.
- We took it easier on the hills, and walked a few extra minutes.
- There were a handful of residents who were cheering outside of their houses which was really encouraging. One man even set out a table with cut up oranges for the runners; I took two slices! 

Miles 23.5-26.2: 
- I was expecting to see AT&T Park a lot sooner than we did. I kept telling myself that as soon as I saw the baseball stadium I would be in the final stretch of the race. I should've studied the course route more so that I would've had a more accurate idea of where we were.
- It just so happened that there was a Giants game the afternoon of the race so there were tons of people lined up all around AT&T Park. The baseball fans were pretty much contained so that didn't pose any problems, but it was a surprise to see so many people walking in the opposite direction of the race to get to the game.
- At mile 26 we saw a few of our good running buddies from SacFit. The day before they mentioned to us that they were going to try to make it out to the finish, but their plans weren't definite. It was so nice to see them cheering us on! Thank you so much Tim and Kathleen for being there! As soon as I spotted them, I had a sudden burst of energy and wanted to sprint to the finish. Seeing people you know cheering you on really is a great feeling, especially after 26 miles!
- Lauren and I sprinted the last .2 miles to the finish line to receive our finishers' medals and post race treats!

We completed the SF Marathon in 4:33:29! Although I didn't reach my biggest time goal, I easily surpassed my initial challenge and even PR'ed by over an hour. Of course I wish I would've been able to run just a little bit faster, but I'm still so proud of Lauren and myself for improving so much. This just means that we'll have to run another marathon to accomplish that goal time!
Right after we finished we ran into another SacFit friend, Jenny who had also just completed the marathon. We chatted with her about our race experiences for a little bit before leaving the finishers' area. Then we made our way back to mile 26 to catch up with Tim, Kathleen, and Brad. We figured that would be a good spot to wait for Marissa, Heather, and Leti. Soon after, we realized that we should've picked up our drop bags right after finishing since they were in the completely opposite direction. My only real complaint for the entire marathon is that the drop bag pick up location should've been much closer to the finish line. After having run over 26 miles, most people don't want to have to walk that far to get their belongings. Once we picked up our stuff, we walked all the way back to mile 26. We had no idea when Marissa, Heather, and Leti were going to finish, or if they decided to drop. My parents were back at the hotel checking out of the rooms for us, so we wouldn't be able to meet up with them for awhile either.

Leti came in an hour and a half after us. Since Marissa and Heather started the race with Leti, I figured they weren't far behind if they hadn't dropped. I called Heather, expecting her to not answer, but was pleasantly surprised when she did. I found out that she was still on the course with Marissa, around mile 25. Since the official allotted time was up, all of the aid stations and course support were gone. Wanting to encourage Marissa and Heather, I decided to run back to meet them, and run the last bit with them. Lauren and Leti stayed near the finish and watched all of our stuff, including my phone. I jogged all the way back to mile 25.75, expecting that they should've completed at least .75 miles within the last 15 minutes of talking to Heather. I saw a few runners making their way to the finish, but Marissa and Heather weren't in sight. I waited another 5 minutes for them, before realizing that they probably already finished and I must've somehow missed them. I was thinking that everyone was now waiting for me, and since I didn't have my phone, I went ahead and walked all the way back to the finish line to look for Lauren and Leti who I knew would be there. Still without a phone, I wasn't able to find them. Luckily I randomly ran into my dad who was searching for my mom. I was then able to use my dad's phone to call Lauren. So much time had passed since I left to find Marissa and Heather, that when I was able to contact Lauren, she was already walking in my direction with Heather and Marissa. I was bummed that I missed them crossing the finish line, but luckily Lauren recorded it.

After everyone was found, the seven of us walked back to my dad's car together. Thankfully my dad loaded up all of our luggage and checked out of our hotel room for us, so we didn't have to worry about any of that. My dad dropped Lauren, Leti, and I back off at my car, and we started our short journey back to Sacramento. We stopped in Berkeley to pick up Chipotle for lunch which ended up being the best post-race meal.

As far as fuel and hydration go, I started the race with a single 22oz handheld bottle filled with Nuun and had my bottle refilled with water one time once it was empty. In addition, I drank several ounces of Nuun at many of the aid stations, about every five miles. Throughout the entire race, I ate a package of Gu Chomps and three Gu Gels. This combination of hydration and fuel worked really well for me. I had plenty of energy throughout the entire race without feeling weighed down or sick. I find that eating a larger breakfast before and small amounts during the run is best for my body. 
I had an amazing weekend in San Francisco with my closest friends and family. I felt so proud of myself for finishing that marathon because I trained so hard for it and dedicated so much time towards it. Even though it was a difficult course at times, it was one of the most scenic areas I've run in. Unfortunately the timing doesn't work out, otherwise I would've already signed up to run this marathon again next year. Luckily though, Lauren, Leti, Marissa, Heather, and I are already signed up to run another marathon in November. We signed up months ago so we wouldn't back out after the SF Marathon which was such a smart idea. I'm already looking forward to them coming out to Philadelphia in the next few months. It was hard to start back up, but I've already started training for this next race, and again am hoping for another big PR!

Lauren also wrote a great post on her perspective of the SF Marathon! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

San Francisco Marathon: Part I (Pre-race)

I originally intended to tell my experience of running the San Francisco Marathon in one post, but with so much to share and talk about, that one post grew way too long. So, I decided to break my recap up into two separate posts. I'm sharing all of the pre-race fun today, and will detail the actual run/post-run craziness tomorrow!
Beginning January 1, I started training for the San Francisco Marathon. One of my big New Year's resolutions was to finish a marathon in under 5 hours. I only had one official marathon race under my belt, and I was determined to achieve an enormous PR. Month by month, I filled in my daily workouts and rest days so that I knew exactly what I needed to do in the upcoming days and weeks. I found that this method really worked at holding me accountable and allowed me to be successful in completing my training program. After a few months of getting back into the habit of running regularly again, I realized that I was capable of more than my initial goal. I wanted to PR by over an hour for a time of under 4 hours and 45 minutes. Again, after many more exciting long training runs, I challenged myself to finish the SF Marathon in under 4 hours and 30 minutes. I knew this final goal would be tricky, but based on my pace and how good I felt after my long runs, I was pretty sure I could accomplish this big feat.

Lauren, Marissa, Heather, and Leti also signed up for the marathon. We were all looking for a way to get back into running after having been out of shape for awhile. Since Lauren and I both live in Philadelphia, it was easy for us to train together and follow the same running schedule. The two of us completed all of our long runs and most midweek runs together.

I flew out to California with Lauren in the middle of July, leaving plenty of time for us to adapt to the time and environmental changes in preparation for the July 26 marathon. Being in California completely threw off my normal daily routine I had grown accustomed to in Philadelphia. I tried to be strict about my midweek runs the two weeks leading up to the big race, but when I did manage to go running, my runs were all pretty casual and lax. I'm not sure how this affected the actual race, but such a big change must've had some effect.
The day before the marathon, the five of us drove to San Francisco and eagerly went to the race expo ready to check out all the vendors. Our first stop was the SF Marathon pop up shop. I had been eying the souvenir zip up hoodies online, so I quickly purchased a green one! Heather and I now have matching sweatshirts, and Marissa and Lauren have dark gray ones. While waiting in line to buy our sweatshirts, Marissa and I ran into our second cousin Carey who signed up to run the second half marathon. We hadn't seen her in years, so that was fun!

Lauren and I are known as the "sparkle twins" throughout our SacFit running group because we always wear sparkly headbands when we run. Obviously you can never have enough sparkle, so of course we needed to stop by the Sparkly Soul booth to add a few more headbands to our collections. This was my first time trying this specific brand of headbands, and after trying multiple other ones, I can honestly say that I'm going to be a longtime customer of Sparkly Soul. I picked two glittered headbands: a pastel rainbow and pewter; and a solid shiny brown one to wear when I'm not running. 
After spending a few hours at the expo and dealing with the "parking situation", it was time for dinner! We were planning to go to Source since Lauren, Leti, and I loved the food when we were there last year. After trying to look up directions, we discovered the restaurant closed. Luckily though, we quickly agreed on Gracias Madre for our pre-race meal. Being an all vegan menu, Lauren and I found ourselves not knowing what to order since everything sounded so good. We order lots of appetizers and a few entrees, and decided to share everything amongst the five of us. Everything tasted delicious, just as we remembered, but all of our favorites were the potatoes and cauliflower appetizers. Their cashew cream sauce is to die for.
After dinner, we made our way to the Hilton in the Financial District to check in. Originally, the five of us were going to share one room to save money. I went ahead and booked two rooms, just in case we ended up changing our minds and needed more personal space. I was planning on cancelling one room, but my parents decided they wanted to come and watch us all run! So in the end, Lauren, Leti, and I shared one room, and Marissa and Heather shared a room with my parents. The rooms were on the pricier side, but being in SF that's to be expected. Our rooms were very clean, large, and had amazing views- well worth the price.
Once we checked in, we spent the entire evening resting. I packed my water bottle and drop bag, set out my clothes, and showered so that I wouldn't have to worry about doing anything the morning of the race. Planning works wonders! When I woke up at 4 o'clock race day morning, I wasn't stressed at all. As soon as I woke up, I sat in bed and made myself finish my entire breakfast. I made and froze pancakes two days before to bring with me. I also brought a single serving pouch of Justin's almond butter. Since I had been eating these same exact pancakes with almond butter the morning of every long run, I knew that this breakfast would work well for me. I gave myself plenty of digestion time to prevent any stomach issues during the race. After my fancy breakfast in bed, I finished getting ready in not time at all.
We met my parents, Marissa, and Heather in the hotel lobby around 5 o'clock and walked less than a mile to the start line with them. I was afraid that walking that far before the race would tire us all out, but fortunately this was the perfect little warmup. I threw on extra layers expecting it to be really cold on the walk to the start. Luckily though, we were blessed with the perfect weather! We dropped off of our drop bags and had just enough time for one last port-a-potty stop. None of us realized how much further the actual entrance to the corral was. We were expecting to be able to walk into the start gate right after the port-a-potties, but in actuality we had to jog another quarter of a mile to get there on time. Lauren and I have had bad experiences missing our designated corral, so we wanted to be able to start at our correct time. This caused a lot of stress for our group, but we made it there right on time and had a few minutes to take a group shot before crossing the start line.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

07.15 Goals Roundup

A few weeks ago I discussed my efforts in finishing my 24 goals as part of my 24th birthday challenge. Last year when I first came up with this list of 24 items to accomplish, I made a separate list of 10 tasks each month, hoping these smaller goals would make my larger goals list seem much more manageable. Long story short, coming up with just a few things to focus on each month really did help me tackle most items on my big yearlong list.

Even though I already posted about my successes and shortcomings regarding my 24 goals, I still wanted to talk about my progress during the final month of this yearlong challenge. So without further ado, let's discus my July goals!
1. Read a book: I read several books this past month. First, I completed Z: Zelda Fitzgerald by Fowler. A few years ago I randomly picked up a biography about the Fitzgeralds, and I surprised myself by being so interested in the dynamics of the duo and their relationships with their peers. I've read a few other novels based on them, and just like those, this loosely based biography of Zelda kept me hooked the whole way through. I also quickly finished Autobiography of Us by Sloss. I found this novel very entertaining, although thinking about it now, very cliche. This is a story of two high school best friends and how the choices they made in college changed their futures and relationships. Lastly, I brought Banished by Drain along with me on my trip to California. The theme of this memoir was the only thing that kept me from quitting after the first chapter. This book was on my "must read" list because it's written by an ex-member of the Westboro Baptist Church and details her firsthand experience with this radical group. Drain had a lot of great insight into the cult-like nature of this church, but the writing wasn't as great.

2. Ride my bike: I had big plans to ride my bike while I was home in California, but those grand ideas never took off. I did manage to bring my helmet back to Philadelphia with me, so I'm hoping to try out Philly's new bike share program, Indego soon.

3. Use my big camera a lot while I'm in California to capture "people pictures": I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't take a single photo with my big camera the entire month I was home. I lugged my camera with me (carry on, of course) with the intention of taking hundreds of photos. It was pure laziness that held me back.

4. Go through all of my clothes back home: As always, there's still a lot more items I could've gone through. But since I did go through a large portion of my boxed clothes, I'm considering this goal complete. When we moved to Philadelphia last year, Lauren and I stored a bunch of clothing that we hardly wore in cardboard boxes at her dad's house. Going through the boxes this past month, I'm not sure why I needed to keep all of those items. I obviously haven't worn them in over a year and I actually forgot I owned a lot of them. Together we filled several large bags full of clothes to donate. I still have a long ways to go, but surely I'll have a normal sized wardrobe one day!

5. Take a day trip to somewhere fun: Lauren, Marissa, Heather, Leti, and I drove to San Francisco one weekend and had tons of fun. However, the entire purpose of the trip was to run the SF Marathon. So, I'm going to be strict and not allow this trip to count. I was planning on taking a trip to the beach and a separate day trip to the Bay area to visit my brother, but those plans changed.

6. Make lots of progress on my knit sweater: Basically, in July I started my sweater, and that's about it. The whole sweater knitting really didn't take off until August when I returned to Philadelphia. Although I didn't get much knitting done in July, I'm flying now and will most likely meet the September deadline!

7. Set up my new iPod: Again out of laziness, I didn't set up my iPod. I just need to make myself sit down in front of my computer and do this one afternoon so that I can have some good tunes to listen to while I exercise. The whole "why do today what you can do tomorrow?" mantra has really taken over my productivity.

8. Tie Dye: My siblings, Lauren, Heather, and I tie dyed twice while I was home! We had so much fun the first round that everyone wanted to tie dye again the following week. Because I trying to get rid of clothes, I decided to tie dye several yards of cotton fabric. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to make with the fabric, but I'm so glad I opted to dye fabric instead of clothes.

9. Make something with beads: I brought my little bag of beads home with me, hoping to use pliers and other tools that I don't have in Philadelphia. But spending time with friends and family was way more important, so I didn't make any jewelry. There's always next time though.

10. Make two dresses: YES! I mentioned a few weeks ago, but I'll happily say it again. I sewed a knit dress and a woven one. Both have been worn several times already. Although neither are near perfect, I've learned what I need to change to sew more-perfect dresses in the future.

Score for July: 4 out of 10.

Well, my 24 birthday goals are really complete now. I still haven't come up with the perfect birthday challenge for this year, but I have a few ideas stewing around in my head!